x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

A bruising encounter for Wahda

The coach Josef Hickersberger was left counting the cost of a comeback win over Ahli in the Pro League that left many of his players injured ahead of the AFC play-off match.

DUBAI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, was left counting the cost of his team's bruising victory over Al Ahli in the Pro League as he prepares for tomorrow's Asian Champions League play-off against Churchill Brothers, the Indian champions. Hickersberger launched a scathing attack on the referee after his team came from a goal down to clinch a 2-1 win over the defending champions at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Wednesday that kept them in touch with league leaders Al Jazira.

Goals from the Brazilians Pinga and Fernando Baiano completed a comeback after Ahli took the lead in the ninth minute through a spot-kick from Hosni Abd Rabo, playing his first game since winning the African Cup of Nations with Egypt. Bare, the Brazilian striker, fell over Adel al Hosani, the keeper, despite minimum contact and the referee, Ali Hamad, awarded the penalty, which left Hickersberger fuming.

"It was clearly not a penalty," said Hickersberger. "It's not easy to score against our team but when penalties are provided it becomes easy for the others to score. We were deprived of the President's Cup final by a poor refereeing decision in the last minute of that game [the 1-0 semi-final defeat to Emirate] and now we are starting a goal down by another bad decision. "We also suffered a lot of injuries. Ismail Matar was attacked all the time and Abdulraheem Jumaa received some nasty blows. These players have to recover from the bruises for an important Asian Champions League match on Saturday."

Wahda will be without Magrao, the Brazilian midfielder who received a head wound. Wahda face Churchill Brothers at the Al Nahyan Stadium tomorrow (KO 7pm). The winners join Al Ittihad, Bunyodkor and Zobahan in Group B. @Email:apassela@thenational.ae