x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

The UAE striker has found his first team chances limited, but manager Karel Jarolim is not aware of any bids for him.

Saeed Al Kathiri has fallen in the pecking order at Al Wahda, so other suitors in the league are starting to show some interest. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Saeed Al Kathiri has fallen in the pecking order at Al Wahda, so other suitors in the league are starting to show some interest. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

ABU DHABI // Saeed Al Kathiri, the Al Wahda and UAE striker, is a wanted man, with Al Ain, Al Jazira, and Al Wasl competing for his signature before the transfer window closes on Sunday.

Al Kathiri, 25, has a contract with Wahda that runs to 2015 but his first-team chances this season look slim with the Argentine pair of Sebastian Tagliabue and Damlan Diaz set to spearhead the attack.

Ismail Matar and Mohammed Al Shehhi are also both ahead of him in the pecking order.

Al Kathiri was not named in Wahda’s 16-man squad for their 3-2 win over Al Nasr in the Arabian Gulf League opener last week.

But a move away from the club where he has spent his entire career is no formality.

Karel Jarolim, the Wahda coach, said he had “no idea” about any offers when asked if he would be willing to release the player.

“I cannot answer a question which I am not aware of,” the Czech said on Wednesday at a pre-match briefing for Friday’s game in Dubai against Al Ahli.

“We are preparing for an important match against Al Ahli and we are focused only on that at the moment.”

Speaking about the game, Jarolim said he had a lot of respect for Ahli.

“We know their strengths,” he said. “They have got dangerous players in attack and quality in the midfield and defence. They have some big names and so do we.

“Our preparation for this game has gone well. We evaluated our own game against Nasr last week and worked on the mistakes. Hopefully we can improve our game against Ahli.

“We are not too worried about Ahli but play our own game and to our own strength.”

Wahda will again be without Marco Estrada, the Chile midfielder signed from French side Montpellier in the summer, as he is recovering from a groin injury.

“He has started training but won’t be ready for this game,” Jarolim said.

“We are in no hurry to rush him back. He is too valuable to us and he will return to action only if he’s 100 per cent.”

Hussain Fadel, the centre-back who made his league debut for Wahda last week, was ready for the challenge of facing the likes of the Brazilians Grafite and Ciel, and the Portuguese midfielder Hugo Viana at Al Ahli.

“I have a lot of respect for every player,” he said. “I have also played against some quality opposition when I played for Kuwait and Al Qadsia, and looking forward to the new challenges ahead.”

Al Dhafra already in a hole after early loss to Emirates

Abdullah Misfir, the Al Dhafra coach, says his team’s 1-0 defeat in the league opener to Emirates has made his task harder ahead of a tough away trip to Baniyas on Friday.

“We had a poor first game and, worse, we had a player sent off,” he said. “With such a result it is difficult to raise the moral of the players, especially when they are playing a team that has big ambitions this season. I have told the players to be patient.

“We had three days to correct our mistakes, both in attack and defence. We haven’t completely given up hopes though. If we can play true to our potential still we may return with a good result.”

apassela@thenational.ae