x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Arabian Gulf League: Baniyas are building for long-term future

Mubarak bin Mahroum, chairman of Abu Dhabi club, says Jorge da Silva's appointment as coach is a step in the right direction, writes John McAuley.

Mubarak bin Mahroum, the Baniyas chairman, left, says Jorge Da Silva's appointment is part of a bigger plan for the club. Silvia Razgova / The National
Mubarak bin Mahroum, the Baniyas chairman, left, says Jorge Da Silva's appointment is part of a bigger plan for the club. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // Baniyas say the appointment of Jorge da Silva represents a significant step in their long-term vision to establish themselves among the top clubs.

The Uruguayan signed a two-year contract with the Abu Dhabi side last week, and immediately highlighted plans to improve on what was a particularly successful 2012/13 campaign under Jozef Chovanec and then Salem Al Orafi.

At one stage last season, Baniyas constituted Al Ain's closest challengers for the Pro League title before eventually finishing fourth, while in May they defeated Qatar's Al Khor across two legs to clinch the GCC Clubs Championship – their first trophy in 21 years.

However, to continue on their upwards trajectory the club decided a fresh approach was required, choosing Da Silva.

This month, he led Penarol to the Uruguayan championship, his second in six seasons as a manager, which was enough to convince Mubarak bin Mahroum, the Baniyas chairman, that Da Silva was the right man for the job.

"Our dream is to be challenging very strongly," Bin Mahroum said. "But we're building the team for a continuous target, not just looking at one year, only to regress. To keep improving is the most important thing and it's important not to take one step forward and two steps back.

"You have to continue to add to the value of the team if you want to be one of the strongest clubs here in the future. And after considering everything Da Silva has done as a coach already, we were certain he was the one we were looking for."

Baniyas were prepared to offer Da Silva, 51, only a one-year deal, yet felt a longer arrangement underlined the club's commitment to sustained success. They are determined to provide the best environment for the new manager to thrive; so much so that they have already sought to enrol Da Silva in a series of courses concentrating on UAE culture and in dealing with the local media. Patience, Bin Mahroum says, is key.

"Absolutely, and we want the coach to be ready for everything around our club and in UAE football," he said. "But our targets for next season depend on the foreign players we have in our squad.

"We're still in negotiations with some players. Once we've something finalised, only then can we set our real aims for next year."

Baniyas's prime transfer target is Carlos Munoz, the Chilean striker at Colo-Colo. Whoever signs, they will join Andre Senghor, Christian Wilhelmsson and Abdulsalam Al Mukhaini in forming the club's foreign contingent for 2013/14.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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