Arruabarrena’s hands are tied

Injuries force Al Wasl to again field second string side against Persepolis

16:42 March 12, 2018
Al-Wasl’s Abdullah Al-Junaibi

Dubai: Al Wasl coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena said injuries would force him to continue fielding youth in his side’s must-win fourth Asian Champions League (ACL) group game at home to Iran’s Persepolis from 7.15pm on Tuesday.

The Cheetahs lost 2-0 away to the Iranians with a second string side in Tehran last week, to leave them bottom of Group C with no points after three straight defeats.

If they don’t win on Tuesday they will crash out of the competition, but their Argentine coach said his hands were tied with regard to making changes.

Because of that, he said, attentions would turn to Al Wasl’s run in the UAE’s two domestic cup competitions.

They play Shabab Ahli at home in the Arabian Gulf Cup semi-finals second leg on March 22, having drawn 0-0 away in the first leg last weekend, and Dibba in the President’s Cup quarter-finals at Emirates Club in Ras Al Khaimah on April 11.

Al Wasl had been top of the Arabian Gulf League heading into the new year but then lost to now first and second sides Al Ain and Al Wahda to drop to third.

“A coach has one moment in the year where he needs to decide which competition he has more chance in,” said Arruabarrena. “Because of that we will play a similar team to the one that played in Iran last week, with those who usually don’t play.

“We won’t change too much, and although mathematically our chance to qualify for the next round is still there, we have so many injuries that lead to a deficit.

“The time it takes for us to recognise and recover players from injuries takes longer than usual, and at the end of the year we will have to analyse to be clear on the problems we have.

“Going so many days without players makes a problem for us but we hope to do good and deliver on what we have practised.

“Playing every four days has become something normal but with so many injuries and players not with the team for several days, we have to learn steps with the young players who played in Iran.

“I’m very happy to be playing in four competitions and faith is back with the club. Sure, we’d like to be in a better position but it hasn’t finished yet, we still have three matches to play.”

Elsewhere, on Tuesday, second in Group A Al Jazira are away to Iran’s Tractor Sazi from 4.30pm UAE time.

Level on points with Qatar’s Al Gharafa and just three points behind leaders Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia, coach Henk ten Cate’s side must make up for their goalless draw at home to bottom placed Tractor Sazi last week if they are to stay in the chase for the second round.