Sebastian Tagliabue will once again be the focal point of the Al Wahda attack. Courtesy Al Ittihad
Sebastian Tagliabue will once again be the focal point of the Al Wahda attack. Courtesy Al Ittihad

Arabian Gulf League 2014/15 team guides: Al Wahda



Al Wahda will hope to begin where they left off last season, after a late charge saw them take second spot in the Arabian Gulf League behind Al Ahli.

The four-time league champions have placed faith in pretty much the same squad that showed such remarkable improvement in the second half of the season that they took 30 points from a possible 39.

Wahda were struggling in eighth place after six league games and their chances of going beyond the group stage in the Arabian Gulf Cup had also ended after four matches when Jose Peseiro, the former Braga manager, took charge in November.

Replacing summer appointment Karel Jarolim, the Portuguese manager slowly turned the season around.

Aref Al Awani, the chairman, is confident Wahda can take their momentum forward in 2014/15.

“We thought we had a realistic chance at the beginning of last season but it didn’t pan out the way we expected it to,” he said.

“We had to make a managerial change and then the team picked up, particularly in the second half of the league. Under the new coach this side has developed a style of play that can bring more success.

“Now we have a settled squad. The players have demonstrated what they can achieve. They know each other well and have a good understanding of the other teams. We can only hope they can improve from what they achieved last season.

“The coach will be determined to build on last season’s promise. He has done a great job.”

Wahda’s productive youth system means they rarely step into the domestic transfer market, but this season they have brought in young striker Majid Rashid from the promoted-side ­Fujairah.

They have also turned down several bids for their Emirati centre-back Hamdan Al Kamali and Argentine striker Sebastian ­Tagliabue.

Wahda will be competing in the Asian Champions League as well as the three domestic titles and the Abu Dhabi club should be quietly confident of winning at least one trophy this season.

FOREIGN PLAYERS

Sebastian Tagliabue

The Argentine was the second highest scorer in the league behind Al Ain’s Asamoah Gyan last season, with 26 goals. He was the first of Wahda’s four foreign signings to arrive at the club last summer and has lived up to his top billing. He arrived from Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia, where he was top scorer in 2012/13, and will challenge Gyan and Al Ahli’s Grafite again in the golden boot stakes.

Damian Diaz

Another Argentine, Diaz is Wahda’s creative fulcrum, slotting in just behind Tagliabue in attack. Apart from his excellent creative play and eye for goal, he is also extremely vocal on the pitch and valuable for his organisational skills. Diaz found the net 10 times in 24 league games in 2013/14.

Adil Harmach

Replaced the injured Chilean midfielder Marco Estrada during the January transfer window. The French-born Moroccan international arrived from Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal on a two-and-a-half-year deal and has yet to taste defeat in seven league games at the Abu Dhabi club.

Hussain Fadhel

The Kuwait and Al Qadsia centre-back has been retained on loan following an impressive season in the Arabian Gulf League. He was a solid addition to Wahda’s defence and is particularly dangerous from set-pieces.

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