x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Al Hosani given the nod in goal

Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, confirms that Adel al Hosani will be the team's goalkeeper in their opening Club World Cup match.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, has confirmed that Adel al Hosani will be the team's goalkeeper for the Club World Cup opener against Hekari United tomorrow.

Al Hosani had been vying for the No 1 jersey with Mutaz Abdulla, who has recently returned to action following a fracture of the ankle.

But Hickersberger has opted for the shot-stopper who travelled as the UAE's No 2 to Ali Kashief for the Asian Games in China last month.

"Mutaz has not trained for the last three days because of flu," the Austrian coach said. "I have to respect him as the senior player.

"I have spoken to him of his position in the team and he is a great team man and he understands."

Abdulla, 36, returned to action last month and has played a couple of games in the Etisalat Cup against Al Nasr and Al Dhafra.

He also appeared during the first half in their friendly against Ismaily, the Egyptian club who Wahda played during a one-week training camp in preparation for this week's Fifa tournament opener.

"He has not played many games after returning from the injury but his experience counts for a lot, and besides he has a lot of respect from the other players," Hickersberger said. "I had made my choice much earlier because Mutaz hasn't had many games."

Abdulla arrived from Al Ain last season after winning four league championships, five President's Cups, a Super Cup, an Etisalat Cup and the 2003 Asian Champions League with the Garden City club.

He was also the No 1 goalkeeper in the country and was a member of the Gulf Cup winning team in 2007.

He won a fifth league title, this time with Wahda, despite only playing 75 minutes of football after signing a two-year contract with the Abu Dhabi club at the start of last season.