DUBAI // Paulo Bonamigo, the Al Shabab coach, has given a vote of confidence to his misfiring striker Kieza, praising the Brazilian's contribution to the team.
The 25 year old was the top scorer in Brazil's Serie B last year, scoring 27 goals in 44 appearances to help his club Nautico get a promotion.
The former Fluminense frontman, however, has been struggling since replacing Julio Cesar in the Shabab attack in January.
Cesar switched to the Qatari club, Al Khor, following a lean start to the season, when he managed nine goals from 16 matches in the Pro League and Etisalat Cup.
Kieza, however, has not done any better, scoring four goals from eight matches in domestic competitions.
In Asia, he is yet to open his account, failing to find the net in the play-off against Neftchi and the three Group D matches.
On the pitch, Kieza seems increasingly frustrated with his form and Bonamigo is "sad" to see his striker in that state.
"He is working very hard, he is trying his best and we can't complain about that," Bonamigo said of his forward.
"He contributes a lot for the team. But the life of a striker is like this. Sometimes they play an excellent match, but they are not lucky; they do not score a goal, but they contribute a lot to the team and Kieza is doing that.
"Of course, if he could [score] a bit more often, it would be better for him and the team."
Kieza was guilty of missing a number of opportunities against Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal on Wednesday night, including a simple chance from just two metres out, and his profligacy allowed the visitors to return home with a point from a 1-1 draw.
The result leaves Shabab at the bottom of the group table with two points from three matches.
They have now dropped four points from their two home matches and play away at Al Hilal (three points) and Al Gharafa (two points) in the upcoming matches before finishing their group engagement with a home clash against Persepolis.
The Iranians, who defeated Shabab 6-1 in Tehran, are virtually assured of progressing to the knockout stages after collecting seven points from three games, leaving the other three teams to battle for the second qualifying spot from the group.
Bonamigo has not given up on his team's chances and he said: "For us, we will have to get a positive result. We are playing two consecutive matches away, so we have to get a good result in those two matches and then we will have a chance.
"The next round of matches will be really crucial for all teams and we will get a better picture of the group after that."
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