Oceania O-League Champions Hekari United are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations as they get ready to take on Al Wahda in the opening game of this year’s FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010.
To ensure they have a fighting chance against the defending UFL champions and host country representatives on 8 December at Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium, Hekari United are now training full-time and have appointed a new goalkeeper coach to work with their squad. The plan is to stop the likes of local heroes Ismail Matar as well as Brazilians Fernando Baiano and Hugo Henrique Asis do Nascimento from spoiling their dream.
South Africa-born goalkeeper coach Reaz Moorad took up the position with Hekari United in September during a pre-season tour and began working with the club’s custodians immediately. He will continue working with the squad as the team from Port Moresby prepares for its international debut.
"I'm really excited as I will be flying to Papua New Guinea this month and then we'll have a training week in Qatar prior to the Club World Cup itself,” he said. "I now want to work full-time with a professional team. Through my time with Hekari, I realised that I have a lot of information and experience and that I need a platform to pass this on.”
Moorad, who is also a New Zealand Football High Performance Goalkeeping coach, is lending his expertise gained from a brief coaching career in Durban and from international coaching courses. He currently holds the International Goalkeeper Coaching Licence obtained in 2004 from New Zealand Football.
Moorad was a goalkeeper coach for Manning Rangers in the late 1990s before he emigrated to Auckland, where he works as a national sales manager for Coca-Cola.
Hekari United created football history when it became the first Pacific Island club to win the O-League Champions League against New Zealand team Waitakere United earlier this year and qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010 in the process.
HE Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, President of the UAE’s Football Association, said no team should be underestimated at this year’s FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010.
“We have seen in the past how some of the world’s strongest teams have suffered surprise losses to clubs with far less resources,” he said. “Hekari United maybe a far less experienced team on the field but what it may lack in this area it makes up in passion and commitment.
“I think the match between Hekari United and Al Wahda will be a very physical game as both clubs strive to achieve their goal of reaching the second round.”
HE Al Rumaithi also announced last month that no member from the Al Wahda starting 11 would be selected for the UAE National team which will travel to Yemen for the Gulf Cup. He said the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010 was a high priority for the defending UFL Champions and the UAE itself.