x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Wahda and Jazira get on with task in hand in Etisalat Cup

With a top four finish in sights, both Abu Dhabi clubs renew their focus to get the job done and dusted.

Ismail Matar might miss out due to a sore knee.
Ismail Matar might miss out due to a sore knee.

Al Wahda will be back up to strength for their Etisalat Cup Group A clash with Al Wasl tonight.

The Abu Dhabi team travelled to Ras Al Khaimah with a depleted side last weekend but pulled off a 2-0 win over Emirates to put them back in contention for a last four spot in the competition.

"It was not our target to win this competition but now that we have chance why not take it," Heinz Fuchsbichler, the assistant coach, said.

"The Etisalat Cup is less important for us than the league and the President's Cup but when you have an opportunity to win it, why not give it a try. For this reason we will try to play with the best line-up."

Wahda will still be without Magrao, the Brazilian midfielder who has not recovered from a leg injury, while Ismail Matar, who has complained of soreness in a knee and might not play.

Wahda lost to Wasl in their first meeting in the Etisalat Cup but have since beaten them twice in the Pro League.

"It is a big success to win against [Diego] Maradona's team," Fuchsbichler said. "But this is a different game now. The pressure will be on both teams because Wasl too have a chance to reach the last four. So this game is crucial for both teams."

Josef Hickersberger's assistant said the young players did a good job against Emirates but they would have their best team on the pitch against Wasl.

"We can't win with that line-up against Wasl," he said. "The head coach gave some of the key players a break last weekend and they will come out fresh for this game."

Al Jazira, meanwhile, can qualify for the semi-finals if they take three points off Dubai tonight.

"For me, the target is to qualify for the semi-finals as quickly as possible so we can rest some of our players for the remaining two games and also provide the fringe players an opportunity of a game or two," Franky Vercauteren, the coach, said.

Vercauteren will have his full squad at his disposal, apart from those in the UAE Olympic team .

"We have the full squad in training but we also intend to rest some of the key players, especially those who have complained of discomforts and muscle pains," he said. "Although they are not serious, we will not take any chances."

Dubai are second in Group A with 12 points, four behind Jazira with Al Ain on 10, and both Wahda and Wasl are on nine.

"They [Dubai] are in a fairly good position and with chasing pack closing on, this game becomes very important for them." Vercauteren said.

Al Ain will also try to improve their chances when they host the bottom-placed Emirates tonight.