x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Depleted Wahda still confident

Al Wahda will be without 15 players for their first group hame with Sharjah due to national team call-ups.

Al Wahda will be without 15 players for their first group hame with Sharjah due to national team call-ups. Twelve are in the senior squad for the two friendlies with the Palestinians tomorrow and Jordan four days later, while three are at the Under 20 World Cup. However, the manager Josef Hickersberger is confident he has enough resources to win the Group A opener at the Al Nahyan stadium tonight.

"We have three Brazilians [Fernando Baiano, Pinga and Magrao] and a strong bench, and I feel they are good enough to win the three points for us in this game," he said. "This competition is different to the league and one that we can try out a few new combinations. We have got off to a good start and we want to move on with that tide." Certainly, Hickersberger should have confience that his team will score. Baiano has already managed four goals in two games, while Sharjah have conceded six times in two matches agianst promoted teams.

Today's other games see a Dubai derby as Al Wasl host Al Nasr ina Group C, and Ajman face Baniyas in Group B. Last night, the defending Pro League champions Al Ahli's poor start to the season continued after Al Dhafra held them to a 1-1 result in Group A. Mehrzad Madanchi gave the visitor's an early lead but the Iranian then conceded a spot-kick for handball allowing Nigerian Abas Lawal to score the equalizer in the 56th minute.

Ioan Andone's men are now winless in four league and cup games. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira struck twice as Al Jazira eased to a 3-0 win over Emirates in a Group C at the Sharjah Stadium. The Ivorian Tony opened the scoring in the 16th minute before Oliveira's double (28 & 63) confirmed the win. apassela@thenational.ae