x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Al Wahda plan a changing of the guard in the summer

All four foreign players expected to depart Abu Dhabi side at the end of the season.

Fernando Bainao's time at Al Wahda is coming to a close.
Fernando Bainao's time at Al Wahda is coming to a close.

ABU DHABI // Al Wahda are preparing for a summer of change, replacing their technical staff and all four of their foreign players.

The Abu Dhabi club have already held talks with Branko Ivankovic, the former coach of Iran and the Saudi club Al Ettifaq, who is set to take over from Josef Hickersberger, the Austrian who has led the team for most of the past four years and won the league title in 2009/10 but has presided over a dismal campaign this season.

Wahda will also not renew the contracts of their Brazilians Fernando Baiano, Magrao and Hugo, while Mohammed Shaibah, the Oman international, will return to the Zabeel Stadium after spending a year at the club on loan from Al Wasl.

A club spokesman confirmed talks have already taken place with Ivankovic and he remains the leading candidate.

"He needs only to put ink on paper," the spokesman said. "This can take place anytime before the end of the season, hopefully."

Apart from a Super Cup victory over Al Jazira in a penalty shoot-out in the season opener, Wahda have had a disappointing campaign.

The 2009/10 Pro League champions were knocked out of the President's Cup at the semi-final stage and are sixth in the Pro League with three games left of the campaign.

They also suffered a humiliating result from the Gulf Club championship, beaten 5-1 by Al Arabi of Kuwait on Wednesday.

Wahda's campaign was also plagued by injuries and they often had to play without key players.

Magrao was out with leg injury for almost half the season and Baiano and Hugo have not featured regularly.

And while Shaibah has been their outstanding player this season his days at Wahda are also numbered as he will be returning to his parent club for next season.

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