x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hickersberger remains positive despite depleted squad

Al Wahda will have to dig deep into their reserves for this weekend's Etisalat Cup opener after 15 of their players were called up for national duty.

Al Wahda will have to dig deep into their reserves for this weekend's Etisalat Cup opener after 15 of their players were called up for national duty for the friendly against Palestine on Saturday. According to the manager Josef Hickersberger, they now head for the game with Sharjah on Friday with a severely depleted line-up. Hickersberger said: "We still have the three foreigners [Brazilians Fernando Baiano, Pinga and Magrao] and it also provides a good opportunity for the reserves. I want to think of the good things they may come from such situations."

Wahda meanwhile joined Al Ain and Al Jazira on two Pro league victories after a 5-2 away win over Ajman on Monday. Ajman took the sheen off Wahda's otherwise authoritative victory with two goals when the former UAE captain Mohammed Omar twice sneaked through the visitor's defence. And that did not impress Hickersberger. He said: "They either took it easy or were lazy at times. We definitely have some work to do in that area. But I am pretty happy with the start because it's always difficult to know how good is our team and the opponents until you play competitive games."

Baiano and Pinga scored two each after Ismail Matar put the visitors ahead in the 11th minute in the first of the two games that produced seven goals. Al Shabab picked up their first Pro League points in a 4-3 win over Al Wasl at the Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium. The 2008 champions led 3-0 at one stage in an ill-tempered game that saw red cards to Yasir Salem and Majed Naser from Al Wasl, and Shabab's Chilean Carlos Villanueva for retaliating.

apassela@thenational.ae