x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Oliveira hopeful of turnaround in form, of himself and of Al Wasl

In less than five years, Oliveira scored 54 goals in 78 matches. That he has thus far failed to register a strike at Wasl has been particularly frustrating.

Ricardo Oliveira has failed to come to the front in the goalscorers' section for Al Wasl. Courtesy Al Ittihad
Ricardo Oliveira has failed to come to the front in the goalscorers' section for Al Wasl. Courtesy Al Ittihad

DUBAI // Ricardo Oliveira, the Al Wasl striker, says only the players can revive the club’s fortunes as they seek to end a hugely disappointing season on a high.

The Brazilian forward, signed from Al Jazira during the January transfer window, has failed to spark the Dubai side, with Wasl winning one of their five matches since his arrival.

They currently sit 10th in the Arabian Gulf League, and last month dismissed coach Hector Cuper. Saleem Abdelrahman, the Emirati, has been placed in temporary charge until the end of the campaign.

Wasl have six league matches before then, and should they wish to climb the table, then Oliveira will need to begin to find the net.

The former Valencia, Real Betis and AC Milan forward, 33, has been one of the most prolific marksmen in UAE football since his 2009 transfer to Jazira, when the club paid a record Dh72.5 million to secure his services.

In less than five years at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Oliveira scored 54 goals in 78 matches. That he has thus far failed to register a strike at Wasl has been particularly frustrating.

“If I knew the reason I wasn’t scoring then I would solve it,” he said. “The only one thing I have in my mind is to keep working hard and believe in myself. This I have. I’ll keep working hard and try my best always for the team, because my job is to score.”

It has been a familiar tale this season, with only Al Shaab and Dubai, the division’s bottom two sides, having scored less than Wasl. The instability behind the scenes has certainly contributed to the poor results, with Cuper lasting four months before a new club board was installed last month.

Oliveira, though, has called on his teammates to maintain focus so they can enter the summer with renewed optimism.

“We just have to work, work, work,” he said. “I’ve had this same situation before in Brazil, in Spain and in Italy. The only thing we can do is to work hard. It’s the players who can change the situation and we know that.

“Despite everything, the atmosphere is great, as is the work during the week. And if we keep like this our results will change. The target is to win the next game. I hope to finish as high in the table as possible.”

Oliveira, released by Jazira in January, signed an 18-month contract at the Zabeel Stadium and he insists he is determined to guide Wasl, the seven-time UAE champions, back into contention for trophies.

“That’s why I came here, why I accepted this offer,” he said. “For me, it was nice to change and come to play here because I know Al Wasl, it’s a big club.

“I can do more for the team, so that’s why I’ll continue to work hard, believe in myself and change things as soon as possible.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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