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Paulo Bonamigo was to stay at Al Shabab but later decided on taking up the Al Jazira offer.
Paulo Bonamigo was to stay at Al Shabab but later decided on taking up the Al Jazira offer.

Paulo Bonamigo takes Al Jazira up on 'offer I couldn't refuse'

New coach confident familiarity with players will make work easier.

ABU DHABI // Paulo Bonamigo says he is relishing the challenge of reviving Al Jazira's fortunes following a successful two years at Al Shabab.

The Brazilian was officially unveiled on Monday night as the new coach of the capital club, having signed a two-year contract, and replaces Caio Junior at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

While Bonamigo guided Shabab to successive top-four finishes in the Pro League, Jazira, the champions in 2011, struggled last season before eventually finishing fourth.

"The expectations at Jazira are naturally higher, but I have inherited a great team with some excellent players to achieve the club's aspirations," Bonamigo said. "I am happy Jazira had recognised my work at Shabab to offer me the job."

Bonamigo had originally agreed to extend his stay at Shabab, but was allowed to leave just one week later when Jazira approached him. He did, however, have to pay a penalty clause of three months' salary to secure his release.

"It was an offer that I couldn't refuse," he said. "I would like to think my former employer will understand as professionals we need to take tough decisions."

Bonamigo took his first training session with his new players on Monday, as the club prepare for a four-team tournament from August 9 to 16. They will then spend 12 days at a camp in Austria, including a four-day stopover in Qatar, before returning to Abu Dhabi for the season-opening clash with Al Ain in the Super Cup.

"We have drawn up the training schedule that includes a friendly tournament in Abu Dhabi, friendly games during our camp in Austria and a couple of them in Qatar before we play Al Ain in the Super Cup," Bonamigo said. "My work at Jazira will be much easier because I know the players and their roles. I am sure they will give me 100 per cent to achieve the results."

Nick Worth, Jazira's physio, will meet the new coach today for the first time, but insists his impressive work at Shabab - Bonamigo also led his side to the 2011 Etisalat Cup crown - encourages optimism.

"The one great thing with Shabab over the past couple of years has been their work rate and how well organised they are, and that's something that can be only good for Jazira," Worth said.

"We've got a very, very talented group of players here, but sometimes last year we weren't as organised as we should be. So the combination of the talent in the squad already plus some organisation and increased work rate should be a recipe for making us more of a force this year in the league."

Bonamigo built a reputation at Shabab for far exceeding expectations, and Worth added: "From what I've heard he was actually maximising what he had in that squad.

"They always gave us a good game last year and they just had a fantastic work ethic that, at the time, was something we lacked.

"We also didn't have the consistency, which was why we were so far behind in the league. But that's where his organisational ability will be of real benefit to Jazira."

Jazira, meanwhile, have completed the signing of Luiz Fernando Pereira da Silva, popularly known as Fernandinho, as a replacement for compatriot Bare. The 26 year old left-sided winger from Sao Paulo will team up with fellow South Americans Ricardo Oliveira and Matias Delgado.

The club have yet to decide on a replacement for Lucas Neill, the Australian defender who left the club at the end of last season.

 

sports@thenational.ae

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