x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

It is a long way back to the top

Paulo Bonamigo is already under fire after two league defeats, first to Al Nasr to an injury-time goal and last week's shock defeat to the promoted Al Dhafra.

Al Jazira lost to Al Ain on penalties in the Super Cup.
Al Jazira lost to Al Ain on penalties in the Super Cup.

It seems Al Jazira have been on the slide ever since they reached the summit of football in this country.

Last term they fell well short of their 2010/2011 season, when they achieved a league and President's Cup double, a feat made all the sweeter by being their first championships in domestic competitions.

Abel Braga, the coach, walked away a proud man, having fulfilled the club's objectives at the end of his three-year tenure. The club lost only four of the 66 league games they played during his stay, one each in 2009/10 and 2010/11.

The Brazilian made the right decision, when he left. Jazira had finished runners-up under Laszlo Boloni the season before he took charge. They finished in the same position for the next two seasons.

Braga may have anticipated that defending the league title would not be an easy task.

The cracks appeared in the following season when Franky Vercauteren was appointed. The Belgian tried to push the players harder and it backfired as the players refused to work under him.

Caio Junior, another Brazilian, took charge as caretaker and they retained the President's Cup but finished a disappointing fourth in the league, 20 points behind Al Ain.

The club did win their group in the Asian Champions League, a first, but Caio Junior was not retained when the club lost to Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia in a last-16 shoot-out.

Paulo Bonamigo, the coach of Al Shabab for three years, struck a deal and he had to cancel his new contract at the Dubai club to move to Abu Dhabi in the summer.

The Brazilian is already under fire after two league defeats, first to Al Nasr to an injury-time goal and last week's shock defeat to the promoted Al Dhafra.

Jazira seems to have fitness issues as well as striking the right balance on the pitch.

They have lacked the punch to attack in the last quarter, with the midfield appearing detached from the forwards. It allowed both Nasr and Dhafra to score late winners, and in-between allowed Al Wasl to snatch another late winner in the Etisalat Cup.

The combinations in the middle are not working as they used to despite retaining the same players.

Fernandinho, their new Brazilian striker, has yet to forge a partnership with Ricardo Oliveira in attack while Shin Hyung-min, their new Korean defender, is often seen leaving his position at the back to take up a midfield role. Time is running out for Bonamigo. He has to find a solution as another defeat may lead to heads rolling.

apassela @thenational.ae

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