x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Hickersberger loses seven Al Wahda players to national team

Wahda will be depleted for their next three Etisalat Cup matches which includes a recall for Basheer Saeed for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against South Korea.

The Al Wahda coach Josef Hickersberger, right, will be down to the bare bones for three Etisalat Cup matches.
The Al Wahda coach Josef Hickersberger, right, will be down to the bare bones for three Etisalat Cup matches.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda manager, will have a depleted squad for the club's next three Etisalat Cup games after seven of his players were called up for the national team for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against South Korea on October 11.

Wahda travel to Dubai for a meeting with Diego Maradona's Al Wasl at the Zabeel Stadium on Saturday followed by home games with Emirate and Dubai.

Wahda, who won the Super Cup against Jazira, the season opener, will be without Ismail Matar, Mohammed Al Shehhi, Eisa Ahmed, Mahmoud Khamis, Khalid Jalal, Adel Al Hosani and Basheer Saeed, who returns to national duty after retiring from international football nearly three years ago.

Saeed last played for the UAE in the 4-1 defeat to South Korea in the 2010 World Cup Asia Zone qualifier on October 2008 and then announced his retirement from internationals to concentrate on his club duties.

The 30-year-old central defender will fill the void left by his Wahda teammate Hamdan Al Kamali, who is still recovering from a fractured cheekbone he suffered in the 3-2 defeat to Kuwait in World Cup qualifying in Al Ain on September 2.

"The FA wouldn't have called me had they found suitable replacements," said Saeed. "As a player, I am always ready to play for my country whenever they need me. They feel I can still do a job for them and I will give my best to them.

"We are not in a good position after losing the first two games and the match with Korea is very critical. It is indeed a tough game but we will give our best shot and fight until the end."

The UAE went down to Kuwait in the opening match in Group B and were then shocked by Lebanon, losing 3-1 away. The two results cost Srecko Katanec, the Slovenian coach, his job after 27 months in the role.

The UAE FA has appointed the Emirati Abdullah Misfir for the remaining qualifying matches.

apassela@thenational.ae