x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

New coach Paulo Comelli intent on proving he is no ‘tourist’

Eid Baroot’s replacement promises to overturn poor start to Arabian Gulf League season, Ahmed Rizvi reports.

Eid Baroot became the sixth AGL manager sacked so far this season on Saturday. Christopher Pike / The National
Eid Baroot became the sixth AGL manager sacked so far this season on Saturday. Christopher Pike / The National

DUBAI // Moving quickly to fill yet another Arabian Gulf League coaching void, Emirates Club named Brazilian Paulo Comelli as their new coach after parting ways with Eid Baroot.

Baroot, one of the two Emirati coaches in the Arabian Gulf League along with Abdullah Misfir of Al Dhafra, signed a two-year deal with the Ras Al Khaimah side over the summer, but with his team languishing in the bottom four with seven points from nine matches, club management handed over the reins to Comelli, making the move on Saturday.

Baroot becomes the sixth Arabian Gulf League manager to lose his job in three months, the most recent being Al Wahda’s Karel Jarolim, who was shown the door early last month. The earlier casualties were Martin Rueda (Dubai), Jorge Fossati (Al Ain), Laurent Banide (Al Wasl) and Luis Milla (Al Jazira).

Comelli, who has 41 Brazilian clubs on his resume since he turned to coaching in 1990, was at the Ras Al Khaimah club on Thursday, watching from the stands as the hosts played out a goalless draw against Sharjah. Baroot was not pleased with the appearance of the Brazilian, 53, and called it a distraction.

“How can we, the coach and players, perform in matches in such an atmosphere?” Baroot said after the game, expressing his surprise at Comelli’s appearance in the stands and the constant rumours about his dismissal.

“At a time like this, we need to completely focus and the club officials are supposed to provide 200 per cent of their support for the team in such circumstances. We can achieve the goals of the management and the fans only if we work together, and not otherwise.”

The club initially decided to keep Baroot as coach, given the penalty clause in his two-year contract, and appointed Comelli as technical director. The Emirati’s assistants were dismissed and Brazilians Bruno Andre and Luis Carlos were appointed to the coaching team.

Baroot refused to accept the changes and did not show up for training on Saturday evening, which was instead headed by Comelli.

The club management then decided to part ways following a late-night meeting. According to sources, the penalty clause requires Emirates to pay Baroot more than Dh3 million in case of dismissal.

Changes at the club appeared inevitable, given the promoted team’s disappointing season.

In nine league matches, they have suffered six defeats, with their seven points coming from wins over Al Dhafra, Al Shaab and the draw with Sharjah. In the League Cup, the team has one win and one draw from five matches.

Comelli’s first game in the dugout will be a difficult President’s Cup match against league leaders Al Ahli tomorrow, but the Brazilian, who has never before worked outside his home country, sounded optimistic after taking charge.

He said he was impressed by “the togetherness and spirit in the camp, and the joint desire to improve the technical performance of the team”.

His last job was at America Futebol Clube. He said he has not come to the UAE to be “a tourist, but to work hard and turn the direction of the Emirates first team around”.

arizvi@thenational.ae