x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Shabab back coach Marcos Paqueta despite early season struggle

The club's chairman criticised the players for their lack of fighting spirit after losing three of their opening Pro League matches - including a 5-1 defeat to derby rivals Al Ahli.

Al Shabab coach Marcos Paqueta.
Al Shabab coach Marcos Paqueta.

DUBAI // Al Shabab have given their backing to coach Marcos Paqueta following an emergency meeting of the club's board yesterday after speculations over his future at the side.

Paqueta joined Shabab in June, following Paulo Bonamigo's switch to Al Jazira three days after signing a new deal, but has been under pressure after a disappointing start to the season.

The club, who finished third in the league last season, have lost three of their four Pro League games, and on Sunday crashed to their worst defeat in the league on since the 5-0 loss to Al Ahli in the 2004-05 season.

Ahli's 5-1 win was their first victory over their Deira rivals in the league since January 2010. Shabab had won four of the five Deira Derby since.

Shabab bosses held a meeting with their coach following the defeat to discuss the reasons for the team's poor performance and find ways to correct the situation.

But while fellow Pro League strugglers Dibba Al Fujairah and Kalba have both fired their coaches early into the season, Paqueta has instead received support from the club.

After the meeting, Sami Al Qamzi, chairman of Shabab's board of directors, expressed his confidence in the coaching staff led by Paqueta and said only one side could not be held responsible for the team's performance.

"Paqueta has had remarkable success in the past, with different teams and clubs, winning championships and trophies with them," Al Qamzi said.

"We greatly value the work being done by him here at Shabab in order to achieve our objectives.

"We had a meeting to find out the coach's view on the recent losses and the drop in the players' levels, and he will get all the help he needs to correct the situation and put the team back on the right path."

Al Qamzi also made it clear that parting ways with Paqueta would not be a "rational" solution and will lead to further instability.

"We discussed all the options available to the management and we believe the situation demands we deal with it rationally," he said.

"Taking any critical decisions at this critical stage will not serve the team as the schedule of matches is very tight. If there was a long break, then you could look at making changes because the new coach will then get some time to work with the team."

Al Qamzi also stressed that the coach was not responsible for Shabab's current situation, but the players and their poor performances. He praised Paqueta for his "keenness" and "dedication", and hoped the players will put in the efforts expected of them in the coming matches.

"The problem is not that we lost to Ahli, but the manner in which we lost," Al Qamzi said. "The players showed no fighting spirit and surrendered the game. The administration is eager to know the reasons for their poor performance as these are the same players who made a great effort last season."

The club management will be meeting with all the players individually in the coming days to discuss their problems and "help them overcome all obstacles".

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