x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Caio Junior returns to Arabian Gulf League to make Al Shabab ‘champion’

New Shabab coach determined to emulate success at Al Jazira. Brazilian looking for one more foreign player to complete quota. John McAuley reports.

Caio Junior enjoyed success at Al Jazira. Ravindranath K / The National
Caio Junior enjoyed success at Al Jazira. Ravindranath K / The National

DUBAI // Caio Junior, Al Shabab’s new manager, said that he has returned to UAE football to become “champion” again.

he Brazilian joined the Dubai club last month on a one-year deal, replacing compatriot Marcos Paqueta, who departed the Rashid bin Maktoum Stadium despite signing an extension in April.

Junior promises to be an astute acquisition, given his previous track record in the Emirates and the region. In 2009, he guided Al Gharafa to the Qatar Stars Cup before sealing the league championship the following year.

In one season at Al Jazira in 2012, he lead the Abu Dhabi club to President’s Cup success, while also helping them through to the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League.

Shabab will hope Junior continues to display his Midas touch in his present role, especially following last season’s ultimately disappointing campaign.

Having spent most of the year second in the Arabian Gulf League, Shabab took only two points from their final six matches to finish fourth. They also failed to reach a final for the first time in seven years.

“I’m very, very happy to be here,” said Junior after his first training session with the players on Wednesday night. “I know a lot about Shabab – they are a great team. It’s a good club and I am very, very motivated because I believe in my job.

“I need to work because I want to be champion, because I was champion at Al Gharafa and I was champion at Jazira, so I’d like to be champion here.

“Last year Shabab were good so I need to continue this work. I’d like to achieve more, but it’s difficult. All teams would like that. But I believe in my job and I’m very happy.”

Junior, 49, will assess the team during the next couple of weeks in Dubai, before they travel to the Netherlands on June 30 for a three-week training camp.

Junior underlined the significance of preseason, especially given the recent competitive nature of the UAE top flight.

That should be reinforced at the start of the season as Shabab open their 2014/15 account with a series of daunting fixtures.

“I know this league because I was here two years ago,” Junior said. “It’s a good league, with different characteristics to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but it’s a strong league with 14 clubs and 26 games.

“But our first three matches are very difficult: Al Ain, Al Ahli and Al Nasr. So the preparation for these is very important.”

With Edgar Bruno, Carlos Villanueva and Azizbek Haydarov filling three of the allocated four foreign spots, Shabab are in the market for another expatriate as a replacement for Adeilson, the Brazilian forward.

“I would like one second striker,” Junior said. “The club are working on this. I like Edgar and Carlos – they are very, very good players – so I want one more second striker, someone fast. I think that’s very important.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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