ABU DHABI // Abel Braga, the Al Jazira coach, is hoping Bare, his new centre-forward, can buck the trend set by his Brazilian compatriots and fire the Abu Dhabi club to their first Pro League title. Having made the switch to the capital from the Dubai side Al Ahli on a free transfer in June, Bare, 28, caught the eye on his Jazira debut this week.
He led the forward line as Jazira claimed a 3-2 win over SC Wiener Neustadt in a friendly on their pre-season tour of Austria, and Braga likes what he saw from his new striker. "Bare was excellent, especially for a player who is only appearing for the team for the first time," Braga said. "We will play the rest of the season in the same way as in the first season I was here, when we played with an out an out striker.
"This was something that was missing from our team last season with a player like Bare or Fernando Baiano as we had in my first year. We can now play in the same way again." When Braga left Internacional of Brazil, the then world champion club side, in 2008 to relocate to the UAE capital, he was tasked with bringing a first league crown to Jazira. His master plan has thus far centred around players who have succeeded in his native Brazil, yet results have been mixed.
Baiano does now have a Pro League winner's medal - but that was secured at Al Wahda last season. After he scored 25 goals while on loan at Jazira in the 2008/09 campaign, Baiano slipped through their grasp and proved to be the difference-maker as their city rivals won the league. Braga has also been forced to cut his losses on two other expensive Brazilians this summer. First, he dispensed with Rafael Sobis, a forward who cost the club Dh62 million in 2008, yet has now rejoined former club Internacional following an injury-plagued stint in the Gulf.
And Ricardo Oliviera, who cost a UAE record Dh85m when he arrived last summer, has already made a scoring return at Sao Paolo after being loaned from Jazira for the coming season. Both Sobis and Oliveira sustained long-term injuries, and their slow recuperation proved to be a source of great frustration for the club's hierarchy. Braga will have few worries over Bare's ability to adapt to life in the Middle East, however. The striker has played in Asia for the past seven years.
After initially finding success in Japan's J-League, he scored 22 league goals in 37 games for Ahli, his first UAE club, with whom he won the Pro League in 2009. And Bare is well aware of the expectations at his new club. "I am very happy to be here. When I heard Al Jazira was interested I was pleased because they are a big club," Bare said. "I think we have a good chance to fight for the title. We have a very good coach and I have a good feeling about this team. I think we can do good things."
Jazira will face Rapid Vienna in a friendly on Monday before returning to Abu Dhabi to continue the build up to the new Pro League season. Their first league game of the season is scheduled to be at home against Al Nasr on the evening of August 26. @Email:email@example.com