Players absence a blessing in disguise, feels Steijn
IN GOOD SHAPE: Sharjah players play a practice match among themselves. - Twitter
Dubai - A host of clubs, including Al Wahda will be without their first-choice players when the second round of the Arabian Gulf Cup is played out this weekend
Al Wahda coach Maurice Steijn felt that the absence of a players on international duty with the UAE National team and the Olympic team is perhaps a blessing in disguise as it presents an opportunity for the youngsters to show their worth.
Following the first week of the new season, a host of clubs will be without their first-choice players when the second round of the Arabian Gulf Cup is played out this weekend.
Al Wahda will be without the services of Mohammed Al Shamsi, Hamdan Al Kamali, Mohammad Barghash and Khalil Al Hammadi, with the quartet in the midst in the midst of a National team training camp in Bahrain. Three others - Mohammed Rashid Al Hammadi, Khalil Ibrahim Al Dhanhani and Tahnoon Hamdan Al Zaabi - are with the Olympic team currently undergoing a camp in Slovenia.
And Steijn said this is a chance for young players to step up. "I'm satisfied with this team. They have improved a lot since the camp until now," Steijn said in his pre-match briefing on Thursday.
Al Wahda, who top Group B, go up against defending Arabian Gulf League Champions Sharjah at the Sharjah Stadium on Saturday night.
"I have confidence in these players. The team is developing and I'm looking forward to working with new players. During my time in the Netherlands, I had also worked with young players a lot. I want to win every competition. Since some of the players are not here, it is a good chance for some of the young players. I have seen them in training and I'm happy with how they are shaping up," said the 45-year-old Dutchman, who took over from compatriot Henk ten Cate.
Action begins on Friday with Kalba meeting Al Dhafra and Fujairah taking on Ajman. Saturday sees promoted Khor Fakkan host Group A toppers Al Nasr with the blockbuster Group A clash between Shabab Al Ahli and Al Jazira, at the Shabab Al Ahli Stadium in Al Awir, rounding off the weekend.
Al Ain from Group A and Bani Yas, Al Wasl and promoted Hatta from Group B, are not in action this week.
Group A: Ittihad Kalba vs Al Dhafra, Kalba Union Sports & Cultural Club Stadium, 7 p.m
Group B: Fujairah vs Ajman, Fujairah Stadium, 9.30 p.m
Group B: Sharjah vs Al Wahda, Sharjah Stadium, 7 p.m
Group A: Khor Fakkan vs Al Nasr, Kalba Union Sports & Cultural Club Stadium, 7 p.m
Group A: Shabab Al Ahli vs Al Jazira, Shabab Al Ahli Stadium, 9.30 p.m