Paul Oberjurge, familiar to American soccer fans as the long-time soccer writer for Gannett newspapers, is now working for the National in the United Arab Emirates and previews Wednesday's opening game of the 2010 Club World Cup: Hekari United of Papua New Guinea against Al Wahda of the host UAE. The coaches of both teams have been at a loss about how to prepare for their opponent.
Al Wahda's Austrian coach, Josef Hickersberger, has the edge, given his club's greater resources. He flew to Papua New Guinea -- 19 hours each way -- to see Hekari play a league match. "It was a long trip from Abu Dhabi to Sydney to Port Moresby and back via Manila," he said. "I spent almost two days for 90 minutes, and I didn't see the first five minutes of the match."
According to Tommy Mana, Hekari's assistant coach, Hekari never obtained video of a full Wahda game and had been limited to watching snippets of play on YouTube. Upon arrival in Abu Dhabi, he asked a reporter for information about Wahda's tactics.