Red cards hit Wahda's title hopes

ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, was enraged by the standard of refereeing after three of his players were showd red cards in their Etisalat Cup semi-final second leg against Al Jazira. The dismissals ruined any chance they had of reaching the final and leave them severely depleted for their forthcoming Pro League match against Al Ain. Mohammed al Jalili dismissed four players, three from Wahda and Jazira's Brazilian defender Marcio Rozario, and Hickersberger was not impressed.

"I don't dispute refereeing decisions but such poor decisions are not doing any good to the game," said the Austrian, whose captain Haider Ali, Talal Abdulla and Mahmoud Khamis were sent off during the 3-0 defeat to their Abu Dhabi rivals at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday. "I can accept the first red card but not the other two. The referee over reacted and it also ruined our chances." Jazira, who won 4-1 on aggregate, face Ajman, who staged a remarkable come back to draw 3-3 (4-4 on aggregate) with Al Ain and book their place in Sunday's final on the away goals.

Al Ain also finished with 10 men after Jorge Valdivia, their influential Chile midfielder, was sent off in the dying seconds of the game for a rude gesture at the referee Fareed Ali. Valdivia is out of the Wahda game as well. Wahda will be without their Brazilian top scorer Fernando Baiano too, as he is serving a three-match ban for a similar offence as Valdivia aimed at the same referee in their league match with Al Dhafra on March 13.

Hickersberger's men are three points ahead of Jazira in the league table, meaning Friday's match away to third-placed Al Ain takes on extra importance, especially as Abel Braga's Jazira have a relatively easier task, at home to Sharjah on Thursday.

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