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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Coach Marcos Paqueta is the fall guy for Al Shabab’s wobbles

Paqueta, who took over in 2012, had been under pressure after the Dubai club slipped from second to finish fourth in the league with two points from their last six league games.
Al Shabab were one of the clubs to give Marcos Paqueta a long reign compared to few UAE clubs. Razan Alzayani / The National
Al Shabab were one of the clubs to give Marcos Paqueta a long reign compared to few UAE clubs. Razan Alzayani / The National

DUBAI // Al Shabab are looking for a new coach after parting ways with Marcos Paqueta, with a Romanian, an Argentine and a Brazilian on their shortlist.

Paqueta, who took over at Shabab in 2012 following Paulo Bonamigo’s move to Al Jazira, has been under pressure following’s his team late-season wobbles, when they managed only two points from their final six Arabian Gulf League matches and slipped from second to finish fourth.

With Al Ain winning the President’s Cup, their fourth position in the league leaves Shabab out of the running for a place in next year’s Champions League. The slide down the points table will also mean a substantial dent to Shabab’s cheques from the Pro League Committee, since half of their revenues will be distributed on the basis of the club’s standing in the league.

In the other domestic competitions, Shabab finished second from bottom in their seven-team Arabian Gulf Cup group, while they were knocked out by Al Dhafra in the quarter-final of the President’s Cup.

Shabab did have an opportunity to finish their season with the GCC Club Championship title, but lost to Omani club Saham in the semis, and that proved to be the final setback in Paqueta’s relationship with the club.

The Brazilian tendered his resignation following several meetings with club officials and decided to waive the penalty clause, which would have earned him an estimated US$270,000 (Dh992,000) as three month’s wages.

Paqueta, 55, said he was keen to continue at Shabab and had made a “big project” to put the team back in the hunt for trophies, but decided to put in his papers as the club were looking for a change.

“I have turned down many offers in the past, to stay with Al Shabab, because I feel comfortable here and have a good relationship with everyone, including the players and the officials,” said Paqueta, who had signed a three-year extension recently.

“But I accept the decision of the club’s management and their vision for the future of the team, and so I decided to waive the penalty clause. I did not want this to be an issue between me and the club, because I wanted to leave in a civilised manner and maintain my reputation in the world of training.

“I do not consider the penalty clause to be a birthright because I remember the words of my father, who told me: ‘Do not take anything that you do not deserve’.”

The club had already dismissed five members of Paqueta’s coaching staff.

“We are now looking at three candidates from Romania, Argentina and Brazil, and negotiations with them are at an advanced stage,” said a club official, without giving names. “A decision will be announced over the coming days.”

A post-mortem of their late-season decline by Shabab’s technical committee held the coach responsible for the deterioration in the team’s performance. For the first time in seven seasons, they had failed to reach a final.

Paqueta, however, was pleased with what he had achieved with Shabab over the past two seasons.

“Before the start of the season, we saw the transfer of Ciel and Walid Abbas,” he said. “Through the season, we struggled with injuries and missed important players at important times. Given the circumstances, I believe we did really well.

“Nobody had given us a chance before the start of the season, but we competed strongly and managed to finish among the top four despite our limited budget and support.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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