x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Arabian Gulf League: Jorge da Silva to bring winning ways to Baniyas

Uruguayan manager Jorge da Silva expected to finalize contract with club and replace interim coach Al Orafi, writes John McAuley.

Baniyas’ new manager Jorge da Silva led Penarol to the Uruguayan league title last season. Claudio Santana / AFP
Baniyas’ new manager Jorge da Silva led Penarol to the Uruguayan league title last season. Claudio Santana / AFP

Baniyas have confirmed Jorge da Silva always represented their first choice to lead the club next season as they prepare to formally introduce him as their new manager.

The Uruguayan, 51, will meet members of the Baniyas board Thursday to finalise a one-year contract, although there is an option to extend the deal until 2016.

Da Silva, who earlier this month guided Penarol, the Montevideo-based club, to the Uruguayan league championship, replaces Salem Al Orafi, the Emirati who held the position of interim coach for the final two months of last season. Al Orafi had succeeded Jozef Chovanec.

Mubarak bin Mahroum, the Baniyas chairman, revealed the club had tracked Da Silva since the beginning of this year, having initially been impressed with his relatively successful stint with Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia in 2009/10.

"We chose him because we heard about his ability and then followed him since January to keep an eye to see how he performs, how he works with a team," Bin Mahroum said.

"We asked Al Nassr about him and found a lot of positive things about this coach and his ethics both inside and outside the club.

"So we decided he's the coach we need for the next season."

Da Silva may not have experience of UAE football, but he is a manager of significant pedigree in his homeland after twice guiding sides to the Uruguayan top-flight title. His CV also includes coaching roles at Defensor in Uruguay and in Argentina with Godoy Cruz and Banfield.

The decision to accept the opportunity at Baniyas will surely have been rooted in the Abu Dhabi club's fine 2012/13 season, in which they rose to as high as second in the league before eventually finishing fourth. Last month, they collected only their second piece of silverware by securing the Gulf Clubs Championship.

However, despite the recent success, Baniyas have already made provisions to strengthen the squad for the rebranded Arabian Gulf League. They are deep into negotiations with Carlos Munoz, the Chilean forward, regarding a three-year deal, although some finer details of the transfer need to be resolved with Colo-Colo, his current club.

Munoz, 24, has enjoyed a prolific season in Chile, netting nine times in 16 matches.

"The player wants to be with us, we are waiting only for his club," Bin Mahroum said. "But, in general, they are happy with the deal. Munoz is a young player who has scored a high amount of goals in Chile and his signing shows we're looking to the future.

"I don't want to bring players only for one year. We need to plan for the future."

Bin Mahroum added that the club have consulted with Da Silva on potential new signings, and that they have another player in mind should Munoz reject their offer.

Currently, their foreign continent comprises Andre Senghor, Christian Wilhelmsson and Abdulsalam Al Mukhaini, while Mohamed Zidan, the celebrated Egyptian, has left the club following a dispute concerning the severity of a knee injury sustained last season.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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