x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hugo's return a boost for injury-hit Al Wahda

The Brazilian midfielder could play as a forward against Al Ahli tonught, a position he has had success at in the absence of Fernando Baiano.

Hugo's fitness will come as good news for injury-hit Al Wahda.
Hugo's fitness will come as good news for injury-hit Al Wahda.

ABU DHABI // Al Wahda will be severely depleted when they travel to Dubai to take on Al Ahli on Sunday night.

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach, has more than half his established line-up missing. Ismail Matar, Mohammed Al Shehhi, Hamdan Al Kamali, Eisa Ahmed and Haider Ali are all injured while Basheer Saeed is serving a one-match ban and Fernando Baiano is in police custody following a car accident.

"Hamdan trained [earlier this week] but couldn't finish it because he felt some pain on his injured knee," said Hickersberger.

"If he is not fit we will not play him. He is a very important player for us and we will not take any risk.

"Eisa has hurt his toe and hasn't trained the whole week. Al Shehhi and Haider have been out for long time and Ismail is on rehabilitation work. Basheer and Baiano are, of course, not available for different reasons."

Some good news for the Austrian is Hugo's return from a back injury. The Brazilian midfielder may play as a forward against Ahli as he had some success in that position during the absence of Baiano earlier this season.

"We still have a day to decide on the combination," said the coach. "I hope our doctor can come out with a magic formula to get a player or two ready from the injury list."

Ahli will be looking to bounce back from last week's defeat; a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Al Nasr in Quique Sanchez Flores's first league game.

The former Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Benfica coach, who took over from Ivan Hasek last month, has lost both his games in charge, to Nasr in the Etisalat Cup and the league.

"Ahli are still a very strong team and their 4-0 defeat against Nasr in the league last week doesn't tell the real story," said Hickersberger. "They created several scoring chances against Nasr and had they scored from some of them, it could have been a different story."

Wahda were held to a 1-1 draw by the bottom-placed Dubai in their last game and sit fifth in the table. Hickersberger knows results must improve soon.

"The pressure is not only on me but the whole club," she said. "We had 13 scoring opportunities against Dubai and they had two, yet we managed only a 1-1 result. This is football."

apassela@thenational.ae

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