x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Wahda missing key players as Dubai Etisalat Cup match looms

With Al Wahda missing players due to injury or international duty, Dubai may have an opportunity to repeat their Pro League victory over the Abu Dhabi club in their Etisalat Cup match, says Amith Passela.

Hassan Abdelrahman, centre, and his Dubai teammates will be hoping for the kind of result the previous time they faced Al Wahda - a 2-1 Pro League win.
Hassan Abdelrahman, centre, and his Dubai teammates will be hoping for the kind of result the previous time they faced Al Wahda - a 2-1 Pro League win.

Dubai may have an opportunity to repeat their Pro League victory against a depleted Al Wahda in the Etisalat Cup on Monday night, as the Abu Dhabi side will be missing several key players because of injuries and national team duties.

Dubai have made a fine start to the season since their first league defeat, 3-2 to Baniyas on October 4

They have beaten Wahda 2-1, drawn 1-1 with both Al Nasr and Al Ahli, and defeated Ajman 1-0 last week.

When the teams kick-off at the Al Nahyan stadium on Monday night Wahda will be without their influential captain Ismail Matar, along with his striking partner Saeed Al Kathiri, and the centre back Hamdan Al Kamali.

They have been called up for international duty for the friendly against Estonia on Wednesday.

Salem Saleh and Salem Jasim, the two midfielders, are also unavailable because of injuries.

However, Branko Ivankovic, the Wahda coach, is not using his missing men as an excuse in his team's preparations.

"We are heading the group in the Etisalat Cup and are second in the league and there is no justification for a poor performance against Dubai," the Croatian said.

"I don't undermine Dubai's strength because they have done very well in the league as well as some excellent showing against strong oppositions and of course their win over us.

"They will be a very confident line-up for this rematch. But we are also ready for them and to turn the result of the last game around.

Richard Porta, the Australian forward who scored a late winner against Wahda, has been Dubai's main man in attack.

He has scored seven goals in seven games in the Pro League and two from two matches in the Etisalat Cup.

"We know he is dangerous if provided the ball in the penalty area and we certainly will try to have him marked throughout the game," Ivankovic said.

"Srdan [Andric, the Croatian midfielder] will be playing a more defensive role and we will have a game plan for Dubai. Like I have always said, at this stage our objectives are to have a go at every title."

In the other game Monday, Al Shabab play host to Ajman in a match-up of the top two sides in Group C.

 

apassela@thenational.ae

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