x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Wahda starting to look upwards

Josef Hickersberger's ailing Al Wahda made a significant move up the Pro League table, climbing four places to fifth, after a fine 3-1 home win over Al Shaab.

Ismail Matar was on the scoresheet as Al Wahda recored a much needed 3-1 victory over Al Shaab.
Ismail Matar was on the scoresheet as Al Wahda recored a much needed 3-1 victory over Al Shaab.

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger's ailing Al Wahda made a significant move up the Pro League table, climbing four places to fifth, after a fine 3-1 home win over Al Shaab at the Al Nahyan Stadium. The result certainly took the pressure off the former Austria manager following three consecutive league defeats and a bitter loss in the President's Cup semi-final against Al Shabab. "This was a real pressure game and we all know that," said Hickersberger.

"I don't think we deserved some of the results we have had but this was a welcome change. I can only hope our fortunes will change after this game." Haider Ali, who wore the captain's armband, said: "The pressure was not only on the coach but all of us. It has been a frustrating period. We needed this result pretty badly and glad we achieved it. "It had been the same last season and it hasn't been any better going into the second half of this season.

"I can't say exactly what the problems were but we were not scoring and the confidence was low. I hope this win will bring our confidence back." The Brazilian Pinga scored twice and Ismail Matar added a third, his first goal in six league matches dating back to Dec 13, after the visitors had drawn first blood through Abdulla Eisa five minutes before the break. Shaab had an opportunity to draw level, with the scores at 2-1, but the Moroccan Merouane Zemmama fired a penalty wide, just two minutes after Wahda had gone ahead in the 56th minute.

Matar was relieved with the team's victory more than his own contribution, saying: "My own form hasn't been great for some strange reason but the three points was the most important. It becomes very difficult to focus on the game when everyone keeps pointing at our mistakes. When you start losing everything we do looks bad. It is hard to explain but we are doing our best." Yousef al Zawawi, who returned to Shaab to lead them to successive victories, gave no excuses. He said: "We missed a penalty that may have changed the result. And it was the better team [who won] on the night."

apassela@thenational.ae