x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Wahda coach takes positives from consolation win in ACL

Hickersberger says the win without some regular players provides some insight ahead of their next Pro League against Sharjah.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, believes his side can take forward the positives from their consolation win over Persepolis of Iran in the Asian Champions League to when they play Sharjah in the domestic league on Sunday.

Salem Saleh put Wahda ahead in the 13th minute and Mohammed al Shehhi doubled it in the second half for the Pro League champions to emerge 2-0 winners in the dead-rubber at the Al Nahyan stadium last night.

"We played better football and deserved to win," said Hickersberger, after his team's first win in six matches in the Group C from which Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia and Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan qualified for the second round of the continental championship.

"There was nothing to play for yet it was important to win for us because this result will give my players a lot of confidence as they played without some of the regular players. It meant, if they worked hard as they did tonight, they can still win without the key players.

"I was pretty impressed by some of the youngsters, particularly Salem Saleh, who opened the scoring for us."

Wahda are lying in fifth in the league table with five matches left with Hickersberger eying for a top three finish that would earn another opportunity for his side to play in next year's ACL.

"We would like to finish as high as possible in the league table. Obviously a top three finish would be the main objective and with five games left it is not an impossible task, particularly if we can play as we did tonight."

Hickersberger's counterpart Ali Daei blamed the poor finish from his team for the defeat and finish at the bottom of the four-team group.

"We created three or four chances but couldn't score, and when you miss such chances the task of winning gets difficult," said the former Iran international.

"It is hard to motivate the players when you know there is nothing to play for. But that doesn't take the sheen away from Al Wahda's win. They took their chances and outscored us. We congratulate them."

 

apassela@thenational.ae