x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Wahda geared up for pre-Club World Cup getaway

Al Wahda plan to escape the public spotlight by spending a week in Egypt as they prepare for the Club World Cup.

Al Wahda players, seen training in Dubai, will prepare thoroughly for Club World Cup.
Al Wahda players, seen training in Dubai, will prepare thoroughly for Club World Cup.

Al Wahda plan to escape the public spotlight by spending a week in Egypt as they prepare for the Club World Cup.

The Pro League champions are taking part in a training camp starting on November 20 and will play a friendly against Ismaily, the Egyptian Premier League side, six days later.

Wahda will also play a second warm-up match in Abu Dhabi on December 3 before the Club World Cup starts in the capital on December 8. Their opponents have yet to be confirmed

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach, feels the training camp will help his players direct their energy into the Fifa tournament.

"I need the players away from their homes so we can spend some quality time together and get their focus on this championship," Hickersberger said yesterday at a ceremony to announce a one-year Dh5 million shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates Aluminium.

"They are not the same team that I left four months ago," added the Austrian, who led Wahda to the 2009/10 title before leaving in June. He returned to the club two weeks ago to replace Tite, the Brazilian.

"There are a lot of areas we need to work on and the best way is to get them out of all the distractions you find at home.

"At home, they have numerous problems like thinking of how to pick up and drop off their kids, someone in the family is not well, and so on. The club management has decided on a place where they would be comfortable and feel homely. For me, it doesn't matter where we are travelling, as long as we have a good pitch to train on and the players are happy with the surroundings."

Wahda's goal is a dream semi-final with Inter Milan, the European champions. To get there, they need to win their opening match against Hekari United, the Oceania champions from Papua New Guinea, and then beat the winners of the Asian Champions League final - between Zobahan of Iran and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma of South Korea - in the quarter-finals.

Neither Wahda nor the Football Association want to see a repeat of last year's tournament in Abu Dhabi, when Al Ahli were eliminated in the first round by the Oceania champions Auckland City, an amateur side from New Zealand.

"We are so proud to be supporting Al Wahda," Saeed bin Fadel al Mazroei, the chairman of Emirates Aluminium, said. "We wish them success in all competitions."

 

apassela@thenational.ae