Wahda missing three star players for CWC clash

Al Wahda will be without both their key striker Fernando Baiano and Haider Ali, their captain, for their Club World Cup fifth-place play-off with Pachuca tonight.

Fernando Baiano, the Al Wahda striker, has scored two goals in this year’s Club World Cup but will play no further part in the tournament.
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ABU DHABI // Al Wahda will be without both their key striker Fernando Baiano and Haider Ali, their captain, for their Club World Cup fifth-place play-off with Pachuca tonight.

Magrao, Baiano's Brazilian compatriot, has also been ruled out of the game against the North American champions at Zayed Sports City.

The loss of Baiano in particular will be a big blow for Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach.

The former Internacional striker is the club's top scorer and has netted twice for the Pro League champions in the Club World Cup.

Ali has been ruled out for four weeks with a hamstring injury he suffered on Saturday against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, the Asian champions.

"It is not my strategy to give everyone an opportunity at this level of competition," Hickersberger said after the team's training at the Al Nahyan stadium last night.

"I have to find solutions for the injured players and we don't have many options at the moment. It has been very hard on the players as we will be playing our third game in a week. And these are games that are very tough and physically demanding.

"There are also questions of fitness in this squad because we have some players who can't play 90 minutes. Baiano, Magrao and Haider are first-choice players but I can't say we are better even with them against a team like Pachuca.

"Pachuca were unlucky against TP Mazembe and for them they would also want to go out of the competition on a high after losing the first game.

"They have strong attacking forwards led by Dario Cvitanich and Edgar Benitez, and an excellent playmaker, Alejandro Manso, and as a team, they have a very good understanding."

Hickersberger has left naming the line-up until today, but he is likely to bring in Saeed al Kathiri in place of Baiano, and start with Abdulraheem Jumaa and Mohammed al Shehhi in midfield.

He may also use Modibi Diarra, the Ivorian forward, at some stage of the game. Diarra has not played since making two appearances at the start of the domestic season when he was replaced by Hugo, the Brazilian midfielder, as one of Wahda's allocation of three foreign players.

Keeping Baiano out of tonight's game may mean Wahda are saving their top scorer for an important Pro League match on Sunday against second-placed Baniyas.

Wahda began the Club World Cup with a 3-0 win over Hekari United, the Oceania champions, before Seongnam beat them 4-1 in the quarter-finals.

"It is important to recover from that defeat," Hickersberger said. "It is not only the defeat, but the manner in which we lost. I didn't expect to lose in such a way, with so many mistakes, particularly in the defence.

"Against Pachuca, firstly we must try and take control of the game. We don't want to repeat the mistakes we did in the previous game.

"It has been good to play at this level but we must also be practical and look at the teams we are playing against."

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