Josef Hickersberger believes in an Al Wahda recovery

The capital side 'did not have a good start to the season', but the coach points to history as proof they can come back.
Josef Hickersberger wants Al Wahda to enjoy a strong second half to the season.
Josef Hickersberger wants Al Wahda to enjoy a strong second half to the season.

The memory of a semi-final defeat to Emirates in the President's Cup two years ago still lingers in the mind of Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach.

A penalty from Nabil Daoudi, the Moroccan forward, two minutes into injury time gave the Ras Al Khaimah club a shock 1-0 victory. They went on to create history by defeating Al Shabab 3-1 in the final to win the first major trophy in the history of the club.

"That result is still fresh," Hickersberger said as his team prepared to play host to Emirates at Al Nahyan Stadium tonight.

"I am not seeking revenge but being cautious of the damage they can do to us. So we need to be alert at all times and play to our best potential to win this game."

Wahda entered Round 11 in fifth place, 12 points behind the leaders Al Ain.

Hickersberger has not given up hope of his team making a second-half surge in the competition, recalling that they won 31 points from a possible 33 in the second half of the season when they won the league 2010.

"We still have 36 points to play for," said the Austrian. "We didn't have a good start, but the way we have been playing recently has given me fresh hopes. I am very pleased with the progress of my team.

"We were very unlucky to lose the derby match with Al Jazira because of a poor decision from the referee. Having watched the replay of the incident that led to the penalty, I feel we were very, very unlucky."

Modibo Diarra, the Ivorian forward who spent the last season with Wahda, will play his first game for Emirates, having joined them in the January transfer window.

"He is a good addition for them and he knows a lot about the Wahda players," Hickersberger said.

"Obviously, we are prepared for everything they will throw at us. They are a team desperately looking for points, and we expect them to play a more offensive game and it will suit Diarra's style of play."

Hickersberger will be without Hugo, the Brazilian forward, suspended after accumulating three yellow cards. His place in the line-up will be taken by Amer Omar or Salem Saleh.

Meanwhile, Al Shabab and Al Nasr, the third- and fourth-placed teams in the Pro League, face off in a Dubai derby.

Sharjah and Baniyas, teams placed ninth and 10th, will feature in a clash in which both will be seeking to put some distance between themselves and the drop zone.

apassela@thenational.ae

Published: January 15, 2012 04:00 AM

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