Al Wahda chase Champions League dream

Matt Monaghan 09:38 27/04/2014
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On the verge: Al Wahda have a realistic chance of making it to the AFC Champions League next season.

Coach Jose Peseiro believes his demand for intense training sessions has ensured red-hot Al Wahda’s focus has remained on Asian Champions League qualification during a two-week domestic break.

The capital side return to Arabian Gulf League action on Sunday at Al Dhafra, a fortnight since they moved into fourth place with a 4-1 win against Ajman.

That was their third triumph on the bounce, with entry into Asia’s elite club competition now well within their sights. In the AGL, the top two spots automatically qualify with the third-placed side entering the preliminary rounds.

Peseiro said: “When a team is winning, it is very bad if the league is stopped because it can break your rhythm. Until now, it has happened a few times this season. It is not good.

“I prefer to play every week – if you play that often [then] you have made the Asian Champions League and that is a goal for us.

“I asked my players to train with ‘more intensity’, ‘more intensity’ and ‘more intensity’ to avoid that situation.”

Wahda are currently level on points with third-placed Sharjah and three behind second-placed Al Shabab.

But Peseiro’s men boast a favourable fixture list. After facing mid-table Dhafra they finish the season against Dubai and Al Shaab, who sit in the bottom two. 

When questioned about this run, the Portuguese refused to look too far ahead.

“You must always think about one match, step-by-step,” he said. “If you think about Dubai and Shaab, then you can lose your focus.

“Our focus is on Dhafra, only Dhafra. Why think about Dubai now, when the main problem for our team is Dhafra?”

The AGL table remains very compact, with only four points separating Sharjah in third and Dhafra in eighth.

“It will be a hard match against a good team which is one of seven teams [including Shabab] that fight with us for an ACL place next year,” Peseiro said.

“It is good for the league, that fight. Everybody knows who is the champion [Ahli], but in this moment this fight for the other places creates a good atmosphere and spectacle.

“We need to beat Dhafra to keep up our fight for second place, which will get us into the Asian Champions League next year.

“To take points there, we will need to play very well. We need to play very well, with heart, sacrifice, solidity, spirit, quality and organisation. If we beat Dhafra, it will be a good day.”

The Portuguese’s confidence has also been boosted by the health of his squad, with “95 per cent” of his players available for the trip to Al Dhafra Stadium.

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