x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Lyon target Al Kamali must shackle free-scoring Al Jazira

The Al Wahda defender will face the heat of an Abu Dhabi derby with the prospect of a move to French giants Lyon at the back of his mind.

Hamdan Al Kamali will need to be at his defensive best tonight.
Hamdan Al Kamali will need to be at his defensive best tonight.

ABU DHABI // Lyon should tonight discover plenty about the character and ability of Hamdan Al Kamali, the Al Wahda defender who is on their transfer radar.

Amid intense speculation about his future, Al Kamali will need to demonstrate mental fortitude to block out thoughts of a potential move to the French side when he attempts to thwart a free-scoring Al Jazira side in what is likely to be a high-octane derby at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium tonight.

Although Khaled Awadh, the Wahda chief executive officer, claimed the player will not be leaving the club, Al Kamali has maintained he will make a decision on his future after match with the champions and this season's leading scorers.

He will need to be at his sharpest mentally and physically to shackle a Jazira side who boast two of the three top scorers in the league.

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach, will have no qualms about pitching Al Kamali into the heat of the battle tonight, even though Basheer Saeed, his regular central defensive partner, has been left out of the last three games amid talks of a move either to Al Ain or Al Ahli.

Hickersberger will be grateful Al Kamali is available as he is already without Mohammed Al Shehhi, who is a week or two away from a full fitness, Magrao, the Brazilian midfielder, and Eisa Ahmed, the defender.

Wahda are looking to take advantage of an out of sorts Jazira side who have picked up a solitary point in their last three matches.

"Jazira made a good start," Hickersberger said. "They looked very strong and I thought they will runaway with the league, but after the recent results, they don't look as strong as they were in the first few weeks. They have lost some points and I do believe we have a good chance to make a good result in this away game."

Wahda go into the game in buoyant mood following the 2-1 win over Al Wasl in their last league game and Hickersberger is likely to keep faith with the same XI.

"There is no need to change a winning team, even against a strong team like Jazira for tactical reasons," he said.

"What we want to do against Jazira is to play a fast passing game, faster than we did in the last two games. If we can do that we can create chances."

Franky Vercauteren, the Jazira coach, will be without the suspended Salem Masoud. He will be replaced by Khalid Sebil in what is otherwise likely to be an unchanged line-up to the side who were held to a 2-2 draw by Al Nasr.

"Wahda have had some good results and we have had some poor results, but they don't matter when it comes to a derby match," Vercauteren said.

apassela@thenational.ae