x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Braga: Stability breeds succes

Abel Braga's Al Jazira side warm up in style for tomorrow's friendly with Bayern Munich with a 4-0 Etisalat Cup win over Al Wasl.

Abel Braga keeps an eye on a Jazira training session.
Abel Braga keeps an eye on a Jazira training session.

ABU DHABI // Abel Braga's Al Jazira side warmed up in style for tomorrow's friendly with Bayern Munich with a 4-0 Etisalat Cup win over Al Wasl. Two goals each from Brazilian strikers Rafael Sobis and Fernando Baiano had Braga beaming and he is relishing his time in Abu Dhabi.

In 2006, Braga led Internacional to the Copa Libertadores and the Club World Cup, which Al Jazira are in pole position to qualify for this year as it is being held in the capital. It came as a shock to the Brazilian club when he handed in his resignation, but Braga is convinced he made the right decision. "Brazil is a little different to other countries because when you get to the top level, it is usually the time to leave," he said.

"You have to stop thinking you can solve all the problems. The management at the top of the clubs, when you get to the top, expect you to solve all the problems, from top to bottom. So, I thought then was the right time to leave the country." Braga, who prides himself on his attacking philosophy, initially thought he would head back to Europe, where he spent much of his managerial career, along with a couple of seasons playing for Paris St Germain.

"My initial wish was to work back in Europe. I worked for nine years in Portugal and three in France. I had an offer to go back to France, but I don't think that there is enough investment in staffing levels in clubs in Europe at the moment. "I got a great invitation from Al Jazira and things are going great here, with the management, the style of play. The players have reacted well to the tactics I am implementing and are happy with it."

Braga, 56, is delighted to have been here at the birth of the Pro League and is pleased with how the game has progressed in a short period of time. "The football here has already developed technically, and you can see that with the technique and quality of players," he said. "There is a lot of difference in six months, with the game getting faster. The quality of foreign players coming in are helping lift the standard." That was shown in the performance of Sobis, in particular, against Wasl on Wednesday which continues their 100 per cent record from their three games and keeps them top of Group B. But there are still parts of the game he feels needs working on for the home-grown players.

He said: "The one thing that needs to change is their attitude to concentrate for 90 minutes, the whole game. Their minds sometimes wander and we are trying to keep them focused the entire time." The Croatian coach Luka Bonacic became the latest manager to part company with his club after he resigned from Al Nasr, the sixth manager to leave the Pro League this season. Braga does not think that is healthy for the league or the players, and that they should look to the likes of Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.

They have spent a combined total of 34 years with their clubs, and both clubs have reaped their rewards in silverware. "Changing staff isn't good because you can't get the benefit growing with the staff. When I was at Internacional, we got all the titles because of continuity. You get the flow of each other and grow together." @Email:mwalker@thenational.ae