x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Wahda coach asks players to raise the bar for Presidents Cup

Baiano may play again but Hickersberger expects more fitness from team as Matar makes a return.

Baiano scored the lone match winner for his team in their last outing.
Baiano scored the lone match winner for his team in their last outing.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, will give Fernando Baiano another chance to redeem himself tomorrow after an off-field incident which put his future at the Pro League club in jeopardy.

Baiano was fined Dh 27,000 and his driving licence suspended for three months after he spent a week in police custody following a traffic accident.

Hickersberger then said a change in personnel could be necessary in January's transfer window if Wahda were serious in their intentions of winning the league, and singled out Baiano, saying he was not fit enough to play 90 minutes.

However, because of injuries and suspensions, the Austrian was forced to select the shamed forward for last Friday's Pro League game against Sharjah, just days after his release from police custody.

The Brazilian striker responded with the only goal in a 1-0 win, and is expected to keep his place against Dubai in the President's Cup tomorrow, even though Ismail Matar will be available following a one-match ban

"Baiano and Ismail is the best option I have," Hickersberger said, when asked if the Brazilian would keep his place when the UAE international returns.

"I don't like to pick on individual players ahead of an important game but I was far from satisfied with our performance against Sharjah.

"The result was good enough to win three points but I want some of my players to raise the bar."

The Sharjah game was the first time Baiano had played the entire 90 minutes in six league games this season, which was one aspect of the match which did please Hickersberger.

"Baiano has trained the whole week but I want not only him but everyone in the squad to be able to play at the same level for all 90 minutes," the Wahda manager said.

"We are going into a different competition [the President's Cup], and in this format we must be prepared to play for 120 minutes, and sometimes expect the game to be decided in a penalty shoot-out."

Baiano moved to the UAE when he was signed by Al Jazira on a one-year loan from the Spanish club Real Betis in 2008/09.

He topped the scoring chart that season with 25 goals league goals and 35 in all competitions and switched to Jazira's Abu Dhabi neighbours after the end of the campaign.

He was Wahda's top scorer with 18 goals as they won the league in 2009/10 and again led the club's scoring chart last season with nine goals as they finished fifth.

apassela@thenational.ae