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Al Wahda hope to extend lead
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ABU DHABI: Capital club Al Wahda will be looking to maintain their unbeaten record when they host Al Nasr in a Group A Etisalat Cup match at their Al Nahyan stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Al Wahda have 10 points from four games, two points more than second placed Al Ain, followed by Al Nasr (5), Dubai (3) and Al Shaab (1).

But Al Wahda will be without some of their top players including Ismail Matar due to national call-ups, injuries and yellow cards.

However Croatian coach Branko Ivankovic is confident he has enough resources to win the match if the other players give more than 100 per cent on the pitch.

“We are at the top of the table and our ambitions stay the same and we got a good experience with Al Nasr when we beat them away 3-0 in the first round of the Etisalat Cup. But we cannot field the same team this time as many of our regular players are with the National team preparing for the Gulf Cup in Bahrain (Jan.5-18),” said Ivankovic at a pre-match press conference held at Al Nahyan Stadium  complex on the eve of the match.

“Mubarak Al Mansouri cannot play as he is serving a one-match ban after receiving three yellow cards and Abdullah Jasem has not fully recovered from his injuries and up to now we don’t have enough players. But this is a good chance for the rest of the players to show quality and show their presence felt,” he said.

Their Asian player Mohammed Al Blushi also known as Mohammed Al Sheiba has not played for a long time due to an injury.

“This match is very important for us in this competition, as a win against Al Nasr will help us to maintain our position at the top of the table and closer to the knock-out stage with only three group matches remaining,” he added.

“It is a good chance for us to achieve good results and it doesn’t matter if five or six players are not playing with us this time,” he added.

When asked about recruiting a new Asian player, Ivankovic said: “Negotiations are continuing and this problem will be solved soon,” he said.

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