x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Al Wahda have 'big ambitions' for all competitions

The Abu Dhabi side go into the game after thrashing Kalba 6-0 in the Pro League.

Saeed Al Kathiri celebrates his goal in the Pro League match against Al Shabab. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Saeed Al Kathiri celebrates his goal in the Pro League match against Al Shabab. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

ABU DHABI // Branko Ivankovic, the Al Wahda coach, is upbeat even though half his team will be absent for the Etisalat Cup tie against Al Shaab because of national duty or injuries.

Wahda go into the game on the back of a 6-0 thumping of new boys Kalba in the Pro League. They have also had a bright start in the Etisalat Cup, winning 3-0 away against 10-man Al Nasr.

"We have big ambitious to win all the competitions including the reserve league," Ivankovic said. The coach is expecting a tough game against Shaab, who have made a strong start since returning to top-flight after three years. They are on six points from three league games.

"I watched Shaab's league games," Ivankovic said. "They really impressed me. First of all they tried to play very good football and secondly they were strong in attack with Careca [Rodrigo Virgilio] and Rodrigo [Silva]. Of course we will have them well marked in our game."

Ivankovic was also guarded against complacency after the big win over Kalba.

"It is a good result but sometimes dangerous because it can change the mentality of the players. They can feel they can take the next game easy," he said.

"We have had a meeting to put the body and mind of the players 100 per cent on the pitch and try to play as best as possible."

Wahda will be without six players for tonight's game at the Al Nahyan stadium. Ismail Matar, Saeed Al Kathiri and Hamdan Al Kamali are on national duty for the UAE's friendlies against Uzbekistan and Bahrain.

Mohammed Shaibah has returned to Oman for his country's 2014 World Cup qualifier against Jordan next week while Mahmoud Khamis and Mubarak Al Mansoori are injured.

"This is a big chance for some of those given the opportunity to establish themselves and show they can play for Wahda's first team," Ivankovic said.

apassela@thenational.ae

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