x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Bonamigo plots route to top with Sharjah

With Ze Carlos and Fellype Gabriel already on board, coach searches for Asian player, writes John McAuley.

Ajman, United Arab Emirates, Nov 18 2011, Ajman v Al shabab- Al Shabab's head coach Paulo Bonamigo looks on as his team struggles on the pitch at Rashid bin Zayed Stadium Nov. 18 2011.
Ajman, United Arab Emirates, Nov 18 2011, Ajman v Al shabab- Al Shabab's head coach Paulo Bonamigo looks on as his team struggles on the pitch at Rashid bin Zayed Stadium Nov. 18 2011.

SHARJAH // Paulo Bonamigo says the challenge to reinstate Sharjah as one of the country's most prominent clubs was the principal reason he agreed to become their manager.

The Brazilian, who was dismissed as Al Jazira's coach last February and has previously coached Al Shabab, decided to accept the newly promoted side's offer ahead of approaches from teams within the region and in his homeland.

Bonamigo has played an active role in Sharjah's recent recruitment drive, adding Ze Carlos and Fellype Gabriel, the Brazilian striker and playmaker, respectively, and he is confident of persuading another compatriot, the defender Mauricio Ramos, to join the club from Palmeiras.

Sharjah also are pursuing an Asian player to complete their foreign quota, with Javad Nekounam, a former Sharjah midfielder, thought to constitute their prime target. Nekounam, 32, who in 2006 arrived at the five-time champions from Al Wahda, currently represents Esteghlal in the Iranian Pro League.

"I'm trying to reposition Sharjah as one of the top clubs in the league, because it's a big name," Bonamigo said. "I considered offers from Qatar and Brazil, but preferred Sharjah because they showed me their vision and objectives for the new season, which convinced me to sign.

"I took the contract because I know the team has such a strong support base who have aspirations of winning titles, and I hope the public continues to support us so we can achieve our goals.

"Sharjah is a new challenge for me in my career. I've already managed in this league with Al Shabab and Al Jazira, and did a good job with them. I believe that's what I can do at Sharjah, too."

Sharjah's last season in the top tier was a hugely frustrating one, as they managed to glean only two victories from 22 league matches throughout 2011/12, a campaign in which they employed four different coaches.

However, they seem determined to make the most of their return to the UAE top flight, and on Thursday became the first Arabian Gulf League side to begin pre-season. A 12-day training camp in Turkey will be followed by a friendly tournament during the holy month of Ramadan, with another camp, scheduled for August, to take place in Germany.

Sharjah will use the opportunity to integrate a large contingent of new additions, swollen by the earlier acquisitions of Emiratis Badr Abdulrahman, Abdullah Ahmed, Saleh Bashi, Ahmed Khamis and Mohammed Yousuf.

"We've started planning for next season and wanted to sign foreign players and locals to complete the squad, especially as we've a young team here," Bonamigo said. "So we sought to add experience and wanted players with a lot of motivation. We've made good transfers to help us achieve our goals next season."

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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