x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A baptism of fire for Abdul Qadir

Abdul Wahab Abdul Qadir's first game in charge of Al Shabab could not be much tougher as his team visit the Pro League leaders Al Ain tonight.

DUBAI // Abdul Wahab Abdul Qadir's first game in charge of Al Shabab could not be much tougher as his team visit the Pro League leaders Al Ain tonight. Abdul Qadir took over at Shabab after Toninho Cerezo was fired following the 4-1 home defeat to Al Wahda on Friday. This season Shabab, who were champions in 2008, have just one win from six games, with two defeats in the Gulf Club Championship in addition to three in the Pro League.

Abdul Qadir is not promising an immediate turnaround, but hopes for a gradual improvement in the Dubai side's results and performances. "We know how difficult this game will be," said the Iraqi, who inherits the team in 10th place with just three points from four games. "Al Ain are a very big side and they have got some wonderful players. I cannot turn Shabab around overnight, but I do believe in the players we have. The results till now don't do justice to the talent inside the squad and my job will be to change that."

Carlos Villanueva will return for Shabab after serving a one-match suspension, but a head-to-head battle with Chilean compatriot Jorge Valdivia might have to wait. Valdivia and the Brazilian Emerson are both injury doubts for Ain, who dropped their first points of the season in a 2-2 draw at Al Jazira on Saturday. "Shabab will be determined to bounce back from their present situation," said Ain coach Winfried Schaefer "They have a new coach, but we cannot allow that to distract us. Cerezo's dismissal does not concern us; we have to focus on our own team."

Ain lead Jazira at the top of the table on goal difference. In today's early game, Al Wahda will travel to Al Dhafra without the injured Ismail Matar and Abdulraheem Jumaa. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae Dhafra v Wahda, 5.10pm, Ain v Shabab, 8pm