x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hickersberger lauds Wahda's title triumph

Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda manager, says winning the Pro League is one of his greatest achievements.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda manager, said that winning the Pro League is one of his greatest achievements. Wahda were presented with the trophy after their final game of the season at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Friday night, having thrashed Al Nasr 3-0 to finish the season unbeaten at home. Hickersberger, 62, enjoyed title success in Bahrain, with Al Ahli in 1996 and Qatar with Al Ittihad in 2002, as well as in 2005 with Rapid Vienna in his native Austria.

He said: "I have had two stints in the Emirates with Al Shaab and Al Wasl, and obviously winning the league with Wahda is the best yet. We wanted to win this game for records sake as we had won all our previous league fixtures at home and also to add to the official celebration on the night. "The league was our primary target from the onset and we achieved with a little sacrifice in the other competitions."

By virtue of becoming the league champions Wahda will now represent the UAE at the Club World Cup in December as the host nation. They will be looking to do better than Al Ahli, the previous champions, who were knocked out of the Club World Cup in their first match by Auckland City, the part-timers from New Zealand. Their season never recovered and the Dubai club finished eight in the table. Wahda made it clear what their priority was this season, focusing on the league to the detriment of their Asian Champions League campaign, which saw them finish bottom of Group B.

Haider Ali, the Wahda captain, said: "This team was one of the best for a long time but for some strange reason we were not winning trophies. We ended that after five years and hopefully can carry on as the top team for the next season, and of course give a good account of ourselves in the Club World Cup." apassela@thenational.ae