x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Al Wasl are serious about the GCC Champions League

Competition is last chance for Diego Maradona's side to win a trophy in his first season in charge of the Dubai side.

Diego Maradona's Al Wasl take on Riffa in the GCC Champions League tonight.
Diego Maradona's Al Wasl take on Riffa in the GCC Champions League tonight.

DUBAI // Al Wasl, who are out of contention for domestic silverware, are focusing their attention on the GCC Champions League to try to ensure Diego Maradona's first season in charge does not end without a trophy.

Wasl initially decided not to take part in the tournament, but after struggling to impose themselves on the home front, the Dubai club decided on returning to an event they won in 2010. Al Shabab defeated Al Ahli last year to keep the trophy in the UAE.

"The GCC cup was, of course, not a priority, but when the board looked at the schedule and saw there is nothing to interfere with our schedule in the GCC cup ... we decided to participate," Fahad Khamees, an Al Wasl board member, said.

"Wasl are one of the favourites to win this tournament. So right now, this tournament is a priority for us because we need to make up for the lost chances [in domestic competitions].

"It's very important to win silverware and come out of this season with some sort of an achievement. Other than that, it will be considered a failure."

Placed in Group D alongside Al Riffa of Bahrain and Oman's Al Nahda, Maradona's team started with a 2-0 win in Muscat and play Riffa at home tonight.

A victory will put Wasl top of their group and boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.

"It is very important to win this game," Khamees said. "If we win this one, we have a very good chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals and going on to win the tournament.

"Like any football match, it's always going to be tough. On paper, Al Wasl are the better team and have a bit of an advantage. But the game will only be decided on the pitch after 90 minutes."