x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Baiano to be eased back in

Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, says the Brazilian striker cannot last 90 minutes.

Fernando Baiano, the Al Wahda striker, scored against Dubai in his last game.
Fernando Baiano, the Al Wahda striker, scored against Dubai in his last game.

Fernando Baiano, the Al Wahda striker, is still weeks away from being able to complete a full match because of his continuing fitness problems.

His head coach, Josef Hickersberger, substituted the Brazilian, much the anger of the home fans, with 20 minutes to go of Saturday night's disappointing 1-1 Pro League draw with bottom club Dubai in Abu Dhabi.

Baiano, 32, scored the equaliser in the first half, but was withdrawn when his team were desperate for a second goal against a 10-man Dubai side who have yet to win a league match.

Wahda are down to the bare bones because of injuries, but Hickersberger said that he could not risk keeping on his top goalscorer for fear of him suffering a setback.

"Baiano did not play for four months and that is why I cannot keep him on the field for 90 minutes," the Austrian said.

"He scored a good goal for us [on Saturday], but right now he is not fit enough to play for a full match.

"I did not experiment with my team on Saturday. That was the strongest side I have because of injury. The fans wanted Baiano to stay on the field, but we have to be careful with his fitness."

Hickersberger had said only last week that Baiano was getting back to his best following his side's Etisalat Cup win against Dubai.

Al Nasr, meanwhile, played down the bust-up between Walter Zenga, their head coach, and Mohammad Jalbot, the Al Ahli assistant manager, on Friday evening.

The pair were involved in a heated dispute on the touchline at the end of their Pro League match, which Nasr won 4-0 at their own Al Maktoum Stadium.

However, Mohamed Abdurahman, the club spokesman, said the two made up later on and the matter was settled.

"The incident was nothing, really," he said. "These things happen all the time in football and there won't be anything further to discuss.

"Coach Zenga was not happy with a tackle made on one of our players at the end of the game and said something to the Al Ahli team and their bench; something like it would be better if they played football.

"He was angry because our player may have had an injured leg, and their number six [Khalid Mohammad] made a hand gesture to coach Zenga that seemed to tell him to stop talking.

"Then the Al Ahli assistant came into our area and an argument broke out."

However, Abdurahman said both men settled their differences soon after the final whistle when tempers had cooled down.

"Their coach came into our dressing room and he and Zenga shook hands and everything was sorted out," he said.


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