ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, last night watched his Pro League champions beat Al Shabab 5-2 then said it would be a dream for the whole country if they were to play Inter Milan in the semi-final of the Club World Cup.
"I believe this is not only the hope of everyone at the club but the entire country," said Hickersberger. "It will be a dream for me and for all of us if we can play Inter Milan. We have one more league game against Al Ahli on November 4 and then our focus will be on the Club World Club."
Al Wahda face Hekari South, the Oceania champions in the opener in the Fifa showpiece in Abu Dhabi from December 8 to 18 and, if they win, will meet the Asian Champions League winners to decide who will face the Italian giants, winners of last season's European Champions League.
However, last night's 5-2 victory was not enough to satisfy Hickersberger in his first game back in charge of the club.
"I am happy to be back but not so happy the way we played," said the Austrian, who returned to the club after three months as the national team coach of Bahrain.
"The result wasn't bad but the performance was not to the expected level. We made too many mistakes and allowed them to score and get back into the game.
"As the defending champions, I expected them to play a more fluent passing game. Instead we made too many mistakes."
Hugo, the Brazilian midfielder, scored twice with Fahed Masoud, Fernando Baiano and Basheer Saeed also finding the net as Wahda completed an emphatic win in front of a sombre crowd of 3,634 at the Al Nahyan Stadium.
Hugo blasted a rebound that fell into his path when Ahmed Mahmoud, the Shabab goalkeeper, blocked a free kick from Masoud. He was on target again when his header from a corner was fumbled by the Shabab stopper. Masoud scored with a 25-yard shot, Baiano headed in a cross from Ismail Matar and Saeed volleyed in a corner.
Shabab twice pulled goals back through Mohammed Naser, the substitute, and Julio Cesar, the Brazilian midfielder, who scored from the penalty spot, awarded against Mahmoud Khamis for fouling Nasser Masood.
Paulo Bonamigo, the Shabab coach, said nothing went right for his side on the night.
"We lost two players, one before the start of the match and the other 12 minutes into the game," said the Brazilian.
"Walid Abbas complained of a pain during the warm-up and Lamine Diarra broke his leg so early in the game.
"While all that was happening, Wahda were two up in the first 15 minutes. So the game was effectively out of reach of us. But we did well to come back and could have equalised when the score was 2-1 and 3-2, but that didn't happen and they scored twice more in the last 12 minutes.
"The first 20 minutes was the turning point for us. We started with two goals down and it was difficult to come back from there. The defence also failed to handle the dead-ball situations, from which Wahda scored three times."
Wahda took their tally to 15 points, five behind the leaders Al Jazira. Shabab remain in mid table on 12 points.
A minute's silence was observed before the start of the game as a mark of respect for Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, whose death was announced yesterday.
Man of the match: Ismail Matar (Al Wahda)
U16 boys' chances suffer a blow
The UAE's chances of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Under 16 Asian Cup was made more difficult when they were held to a 1-1 draw by China last night at the JAR stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Salah Ali, the substitute, put the UAE ahead in the 70th minute, four minutes after China's Sun Zhengao was sent off. But Zheng Dalun fired the equaliser to salvage a point and keep their slender hopes alive.
Iraq beat Kuwait 3-0 to seal their passage to the quarter-finals with two wins.
The UAE level with Kuwait in second place with two points.
The UAE face Iraq in tomorrow while Kuwait face China in the battle for the remaining qualifying place.