x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

President's Cup: Fitness issues concern Al Wahda's Josef Hickersberger

Manager has full squad at his disposal but some players still have problems ahead of semi-final against Al Shabab, writes Amith Passela.

Josef Hickersberger returns to an Al Wahda squad that has all their players available for the semi-final against Al Shabab. But that doesn't mean a few of them do not have fitness concerns.
Josef Hickersberger returns to an Al Wahda squad that has all their players available for the semi-final against Al Shabab. But that doesn't mean a few of them do not have fitness concerns.

ABU DHABI // After leading Al Wahda to the Pro League championship in 2010 and the Super Cup in 2012, Josef Hickersberger is quietly confident his return to the club last week has created a positive atmosphere for their most important game of the season.

The 65-year-old Austrian will lead the Abu Dhabi club against Al Shabab on Monday night in the President's Cup semi-final at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium in Al Ain.

He will have a full squad to choose from, but his worry is the fitness of some of the key players, such as Ismail Matar, Hamdan Al Kamali, Mohammed Al Shehhi, Saeed Al Kathiri, Mahmoud Khamis and Adel Al Hosani.

"So it is very difficult to find the line-up for a team in which all players are able to play 90 minutes and sometimes to play 120 minutes," he said.

"The problem is to find the best possible team and to be sure that there is no need to make more than three changes. I can't start with four or five players who can't play for 90 minutes."

Al Kamali has been out of action for two months. Matar, Al Kathiri, Khamis and Al Hosani were absent last week in their 4-3 loss to Ajman, their third in a row in the Pro League.

Hickersberger has identified Shabab's Brazilian trio of Luiz Henrique, Edgar Bruno and Ciel, along with the Uzbek midfielder Azizbek Haydarov, as the Dubai club's danger players.

"We must take control of them," he said.

apassela@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE