x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Al Shabab have a new Brazilian hero in Adeilson

They may have lost the mercurial Brazilian, Ciel, this summer to their crosstown rivals, but manager Marcos Paqueta has shrewdly replaced the winger with a compatriot of similar standing.

Al Shabab, in green, were dominant against Al Ain on Sunday night. Satish Kumar / The National
Al Shabab, in green, were dominant against Al Ain on Sunday night. Satish Kumar / The National

Al Shabab 3 Al Ain 1

Al Shabab Adeilson 21’, 63’, Bruno (pen) 69’ Al Ain Bruno (og) 45+1’

Red card Salem (Al Ain) Man of the match Adeilson (Al Shabab)

DUBAI // If this was a match for Al Ain to prove that their coaching conundrum is little more than an inconvenience, then they would have preferred more accommodating hosts.

Just as fate would have it, the opening weekend of the 2013/14 campaign pitted the UAE champions against Al Shabab, an already competent side who continue to sprinkle their play with the “jogo bonito”.

They may have lost the mercurial Brazilian, Ciel, this summer to their crosstown rivals, but manager Marcos Paqueta has shrewdly replaced the winger with a compatriot of similar standing.

Admittedly, Adeilson Pereira de Mello was not exactly a household name before Shabab plucked him last month from his homeland. However, the supporters at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium last night left the ground chanting a new hero. For that, simply “Adeilson” will do; try fitting his full title into something catchy.

“We’re really very satisfied with the player’s contribution, not only in this game but also the last two matches,” said Marcio Sabino, the Shabab assistant coach, about their star recruit. “We see him as a very important player, because he’s making a lot of effort to gel with the team. I think his contribution to the team tonight will not be the last.”

Adeilson’s first telling contribution arrived on 20 minutes, the forward breaking quickly before cutting in on his left foot and curling a powerful drive inside Khaled Essa’s far post. The stadium erupted and Adeilson was eager to return their affections.

Yet an own goal from Edgar Bruno on the stroke of half time allowed Al Ain to draw level and the Garden City club emerged from the break with renewed vigour. Asamoah Gyan saw an effort palmed away, while Omar Abdulrahman rocked the crossbar with a thunderous effort.

Their ascendancy was short-lived, though. Just after the hour Adeilson proved brightest in the Al Ain penalty area to tap home Rashid Hassan’s inviting cross. Stunned, the visitors swiftly conceded another and, with it, the match.

Again, Adeilson played protagonist, racing clear of the Al Ain defence, evading the advancing Essa before being bundled over in the box by Mohanad Salem. The Al Ain centre-back was promptly sent off; Bruno then kept his composure from the spot.

The striker’s relative serenity was in stark contrast to the Shabab bench, as their substitute goalkeeper was unfortunate enough to be booked for an overzealous celebration. That he was sporting a garish orange jersey surely did not aid his cause.

Even Paqueta received his marching orders, bizarrely, for chucking a water bottle when the penalty was awarded. Vanquishing the title holders can do crazy things to a man.

For Al Ain, they have recovered from first-round defeats before, but this time they have more pressing concerns. Finding a successor to Jorge Fossati will quickly occupy their thoughts.

“It has been difficult to focus the players as it has only been 48 hours,” said Ahmed Abdullah, Al Ain’s caretaker coach. “But the committee takes the decision in the best interests of the club. The change sometimes can be positive.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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