x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Baiano is finally finding the rhythm at Wahda

Brazilian missed opportunities, but Hickersberger says he showed signs that he getting back in form for new club. Coach also hailed Khamis.

Fernando Baiano, left, is showing signs of returning to his best form, according his manager at Al Wahda.
Fernando Baiano, left, is showing signs of returning to his best form, according his manager at Al Wahda.

ABU DHABI // Fernando Baiano, the Al Wahda striker, is getting back to his best despite missing three good chances in last Sunday's Etisalat Cup win over Dubai, according to Josef Hickersberger, his coach.

The Brazilian has had a slow start to the season and looked slightly overweight in the opening games of the domestic campaign. He has yet to score in any competition.

Baiano, now 32, was wasteful in front of goal in the 3-2 home victory over Dubai in Abu Dhabi, but his coach was pleased with the performance of the former Al Jazira forward, who is a favourite of the Wahda fans who chanted his name throughout the game.

"I thought Baiano had a very good game against Dubai," said the coach. "He had some really decent chances and it is a good sign for him that he made these opportunities inside the penalty box.

"It is unfortunate for him that he missed them, of course, and there were maybe three chances for him to score, but it is better for a striker to miss rather than them not having any in a match."

Hickersberger has also been impressed with the form of Mahmoud Khamis.

The midfielder scored a spectacular goal to seal a win over Dubai and also had a hand in his team's other two strikes.

Khamis is one of the few naturally left-footed players in the Wahda squad, which is why he has been pushed out wide left, either in defence or attack, this season.

But his coach sees the player as someone who could pull the strings for his team in the middle of the park

"We know that Khamis has a lot of shooting power and for that reason it is better to have him in the central midfield position," said Hickersberger.

"He is then not so far away from the action.

"Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of left-footed players in the squad at this moment in time. So Mahmoud has had to play left-back as well, but his best position is in midfield."

Wahda have six points in Group A of the Etisalat Cup, but they are still second bottom of the six-team group with three matches left to play.

Their aim will be to catch second-placed Al Wasl, who have nine points, as only the top two teams qualify for semi-finals of the competition.

Jazira, the group leaders with 12 points, have a five-point lead over Al Ain in third and appear to have one foot in the semi-finals already.

Hickersberger's men travel to Dubai tonight for a rematch of Sunday's game. The Austrian believes his teams hopes of making the knockout stage will be over unless they beat Dubai.

"We are far away from Al Jazira and Al Wasl in a very difficult group, and have some hard away games to play," he said.

"We will probably need to beat Dubai at their ground to have any chance and then we will take it game by game.

"I don't think that far ahead but, as I have said before, we will use this competition to have a look at younger players."

 

ncameron@thenational.ae

 

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