x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Summer of inactivity now troubles Al Wahda

The pressure is now on Al Wahda, who decided to stand pat during the summer transfer season and did not pursue any big name foreign imports, even though their competitors did.

When a decision is handed down from a club's top echelons of power, there is nothing much anyone can do other than follow orders.

Sheikh Saeed bin Zayed, the chairman of Al Wahda, decided in the summer that the club's foreign contingent; the Brazilian trio of Fernando Baiano, Magrao and Hugo would complete their contracts, meaning there was no scope for Josef Hickersberger, the coach, to scour the transfer market for potential recruits.

While the club were inactive their Pro League rivals stole a march on them by signing some high-profile strikers.

The pressure is now on Wahda, who have taken just one point from their opening two league games, with Baiano, the striker and their top scorer for the past two years, still recovering from an injury he suffered towards the end of last season.

It has left Hickersberger experimenting with Hugo, the midfielder, in a more advanced role, as well as relying on their experienced Emirati forwards Ismail Matar, himself still fighting he was back to full fitness, and Mohammed Al Shehhi. "Baiano has taken a longer time than we expected him to get into match fitness," Hickersberger said. "He is working hard and it would be good ... if he can regain full fitness soon."

Baiano, 32, was the Pro League's top scorer with 25 goals in 2008/09, when he first arrived at Al Jazira on loan from Real Betis.

He moved to Wahdathe following season, and was an instant success, winning the league. He was top scorer for the club with 18 and second in the league only behind Jose Sand (24), Al Ain's Argentine striker.

Baiano topped the club's scoring charts again last term, albeit with half the number he scored in the first season. And he has yet to score in two games this campaign in two substitute appearances.

Wahda have some of the best Emirati talent, with seven of them in the national team, but they have struggled without the prolific Brazilian.

Until Baiano returns fully fit and scoring goals, they may rue their decision of not bolstering their attacking options in the summer.