x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Valdivia may miss Wahda showdown

Al Ain's inspirational playmaker Jorge Valdivia is likely to be missing from their team as they travel to Abu Dhabi for the top-of-the-table clash with Al Wahda tonight.

ABU DHABI // Al Ain's inspirational playmaker Jorge Valdivia is likely to be missing from their team as they travel to Abu Dhabi for the top-of-the-table clash with Al Wahda at the Al Nahyan Stadium tonight (8pm kick-off). The Chilean midfielder suffered a groin injury while playing in a friendly against Slovakia last week, although the club's Brazilian striker Emerson returns to the team after a short break in his home country.

In the pair's absence, Al Ain were eliminated from the President's Cup by 10-man Ajman in a penalty shootout last week. Al Ain are second in the table and their manager Winfried Schaefer has told his players to use the match against fourth-placed Al Wahda to get over the disappointment of last week's defeat. He said: "This is not a league-deciding game but very important for us as well as the other teams in the title race.

"We have Emerson back in the side and his presence will strengthen the attack, but we still have to see the results of Valdivia's injury." Wahda will be at full strength with the return of Ismail Matar, their key striker. Matar made a brief appearance in last week's President's Cup win against Baniyas and is expected to start against Al Ain. "Ismail is special for us and his presence not only inspire our team, but gives the opposition a lot to think on the pitch," said the Wahda captain Haider Ali. "He has been out of action for more than six weeks but players like him don't need much time to get back to action on the pitch. His presence alone is enough to raise the confidence of the team."

On Sunday night, the Brazilian Bare saved a draw for the league champions Al Ahli with an injury-time equaliser against Al Wasl at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Sunday. Mahdi Ali's side had trailed 1-0 from the 14th minute through an own goal from Saad Surour. @Email:apassela@thenational.ae