x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Wahda are wary of Baniyas

Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, has warned his players not to underestimate Baniyas in the Pro League tonight.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, has warned his players not to underestimate Baniyas when they meet in the Pro League at the Al Nahyan Stadium tonight, despite drubbing their opponents 4-0 when they met in the President's Cup four weeks ago. Hickersberger felt the scoreline flattered his side, saying: "They had lot of possession and scoring opportunities. They were unlucky that night as two of their shots hit the post. We returned with a scoreline that looked one-sided, when it really wasn't.

"Baniyas are only a point behind us and that tells us a different story. Nobody should undermine their strength. This is a big game for both teams. "Of course we want to win and we are prepared with no selection worries. We only had two days [together] after five of our players returned from national duty, but they're not big issues." Ismail Matar, Mohammed al Shehhi, Mahmoud Khamis, Fahad Masoud and Hamdan al Kamali all return for Wahda, who sit four points behind league leaders Al Jazira, after featuring in the 0-0 friendly against Kuwait on Wednesday.

Baniyas are strengthened by the return of Theyab Awana, Amer Abdulrahman and Modibo Diarra, now fully recovered from a leg injury, for the game (kick-off 4.45pm) in the capital. They lost 1-0 to Al Ain in their midweek Etisalat Cup fixture, although coach Lutfi al Benzarti rested some players with tonight's match in mind. "Our concentration is on the league after the superb start we have had," said al Benzarti. "For us, every game in the league is now a big game. We want to consolidate our position and try to finish in the top four."

Al Jazira face Al Ahli on Tuesday, while Al Shabab are at home to Al Nasr on the same night. apassela@thenational.ae