x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Al Wahda to give youth a chance against Al Jazira

Josef Hickersberger will let youngsters try to prove themselves tomorrow against local rivals as Wahda are already out of the Etisalat Cup.

Jazira beat Wadha 4-2 when the clubs met in January’s Pro League match at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
Jazira beat Wadha 4-2 when the clubs met in January’s Pro League match at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira and Al Wahda will both be missing key players for tonight's Etisalat Cup clash but the match will lack none of the passion associated with a city derby.

The coaches are both likely to field a number of squad players at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in the third meeting in the season between the two Abu Dhabi giants but they will both be going all-out for the win - not least for the sake of the fans.

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach, has already given up hopes of lifting the cup and said: "We will play a young and inexperienced side. Nevertheless we will play to win and I feel the youngsters will want to prove their credentials for promotions to the first team.

The Austrian has had a selection headache from the beginning of the season. "We have to start with the situation we are in at the moment," he said.

"Jazira have already qualified and we don't have any chance.

With the Etisalat Cup out of their grasp, Hickersberger has his focus on their next important game, a President's Cup match against Baniyas on April 8.

"We will preserve our players for our next important game, which is the President's Cup semi-final," he said.

"We will try to get all our key players back to the best physical shape during this break.

"There is no point in playing any of them in a game in which they don't have any motivation."

Wahda have lost both their Pro League game and the Etisalat Cup first round meeting to Jazira since winning the Super Cup through a penalty shoot-out in the curtain raiser match for the season.

"We started well but we haven't had the results we would like to have in both the Etisalat Cup and the league," Hickersberger said.

"We will have to do what's next best for the club and that's to provide the youngsters as much opportunities as possible. We are also playing in the Gulf Club championship and that's a good exposure to the young players."

Wahda returned with a 2-0 away win over Al Khuraitiat of Qatar in their opening Gulf Club Championship Group B match on Monday.

Wahda have three players in the Olympic team and four in the senior national team preparing for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Lebanon on February 29.

Franky Vercauteren, the Jazira coach, believes it is still important for his team to win even after qualifying for the semi-finals.

"It is still important to win against Wahda because it is always a classic game even if both teams are not at full strength," the Belgian said.

"I guess Wahda will have the same approach. We will see how they play and then take decisions while the players are on the pitch.

"Obviously both teams will not be at full strength as we have some players in the senior national team and will rest those who played in the Olympic qualifier.

"We still have a training session before we pick the team."

apassela@thenational.ae