x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Al Wahda's Hickersberger laments injuries

Coach of Al Wahda believes loss of key trio contributed to draw.

Al Ain snatched a late draw at Al Wahda
Al Ain snatched a late draw at Al Wahda

ABU DHABI // Al Wahda are awaiting news on the fitness of three key players ahead of next week's game at Al Nasr.

Hugo and Magrao, the Brazilians midfielders, and Hamdan Al Kamali, the UAE international defender who has only recently returned from a fractured cheekbone, had to leave the pitch due to injuries in the 2-2 draw with Al Ain.

Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, felt the loss of the players contributed to the draw. Wahda had looked on course for their first league win of the season until Ismail Ahmed struck an equaliser two minutes into injury time. Al Ain took the lead when Al Kamali headed a cross from Asamoah Gyan to his own goal but made amends by heading home a free kick into the correct net from Basheer Saeed for the equaliser. Mohammed Al Shehhi then gave the home side the lead three minutes before the break until Ahmed's late header from a corner.

"Our defence was very good," Hickersberger said. "But after the changes we made due to the injuries, it was difficult. We lost Hamdan, Magrao and Hugo. They are the three taller players and good with their heads.

"So they capitalised on their free kicks and corners. Ismail Ahmed has scored before in other games. And we couldn't handle that height advantage because of the loss of our players due to injury.

"In general, my team's performance was good. It was better than our game against Shabab. Ismail Matar and [Mohammed Al] Shehhi were impressive. I think we are improving despite having just a single point."

Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, was naturally delighted his team scored an injury-time equaliser to take their tally to four points from two games.

"The first half was not good but we played better in the second," Olaroiu said. "It was a very stressful match. The first goal was by luck. But we were more attacking in the second half.

"We had many chances. But we couldn't capitalise on it. I am happy we got at least a point. The team showed character. This will help us for the future. We don't have to think we are bigger than them.

"We have a long way in front of us. We will try like we did tonight and I'm very happy that we equalised in the end instead of losing the game .I'm happy with the way we fought in the second half and draw the game."

apassela@thenational.ae