x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New coach Jorginho has big plans for Al Wasl’s future

Wasl introduce Jorginho as their new coach, with the Brazilian immediately vowing to help restore the Dubai club to former glory, reports John McAuley.

Ponte Preta coach Jorginho gestures during the Copa Sudamericana 2013 final second leg against Argentina's Lanus in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 11, 2013. Juan Mabromata / AFP
Ponte Preta coach Jorginho gestures during the Copa Sudamericana 2013 final second leg against Argentina's Lanus in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 11, 2013. Juan Mabromata / AFP

DUBAI // Jorginho, Al Wasl’s new coach, has promised to do everything he can to guide the club back toward the summit of UAE football.

The Brazilian, a World Cup winner in 1994, was introduced to the media at the Zabeel Stadium yesterday, having last week signed a one-year contract. He succeeds Hector Cuper, the Argentine, who was dismissed last month following a sequence that yielded 10 defeats in 16 matches.

Wasl are 12th in the 14-team Arabian Gulf League, seven points above the relegation zone with three matches remaining.

Jorginho, 49, therefore faces an unenviable task, given Wasl’s continued struggles in the UAE top flight. In the professional era’s five seasons, they have finished no higher than fifth, in 2011.

However, Jorginho hopes to emulate Ze Mario, the Brazilian who in 2007 led Wasl to their last league crown, the seventh in their history. The compatriots discussed Jorginho’s suitability to the role before he accepted the Dubai club’s offer.

“I have had a lot of feedback about the football here, especially from Ze Mario, who gave me good information about the UAE and the club,” Jorginho said through a translator. “I’m very happy to join Al Wasl. First, I need a chance to arrange the team and then let’s see what will happen in the future. I thank the board for giving me this opportunity, and I will perform to prove their confidence in me was justified.”

Jorginho has not managed a club since December, when he steered Sao Paulo’s Ponte Preta to the final of the Copa Sudamericana, the second-most-prestigious club competition in South America.

The former Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Flamengo defender said he rejected several opportunities to coach again in Japan – he managed Kashima Antlers for a year in 2012 – and also a proposal from Flamengo, as he wanted to embark on a new “experiment” in the Emirates.

He said that he already knows well the Wasl squad, although he will evaluate the players at close quarters before meeting with the club’s technical committee to decide his transfer strategy for the summer.

“I’ve been watching matches and can see the players should perform better than this,” he said. “I blame them. But I will work with the board to put the team on the right track and I’m sure we will return to the right position in the league.

“I have sufficient time to work and settle all problems. We’re going to achieve something with the team. This is the challenge and I accept that challenge.”

That assignment begins in earnest in June, when Jorginho officially begins his role. Wasl’s players will report for pre-season on June 20, with a two-week training camp to take place in Germany, starting August 3.

Jorginho becomes Wasl’s 13th coach since they achieved their league and cup double in the 2006/07 season.

The club’s board, installed in January, is once again chaired by Rashid Belhoul, who previously held the position from 2003 to 2009.

The technical committee had considered several possible candidates to replace Cuper, although their desire to return to “the Brazilian school” prompted a move for Jorginho.

“We had a shortlist in which we had looked here and there for a manager,” said Majed Abdullah, the Wasl team manager. “But we decided on Jorginho because we have had a good chemistry with Brazilian coaches in the past. We hope to continue that.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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