x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pro League: Al Jazira missing key duo for Al Shabab clash

Brazilian coach Paulo Bonamigo welcomes his former club to the capital, but does so withouth Ricardo Oliveira or Shin Hyung-min.

Paulo Bonamigo, the Al Jazira coach, was previously at Al Shabab for two-and-a-half years.
Paulo Bonamigo, the Al Jazira coach, was previously at Al Shabab for two-and-a-half years.

ABU DHABI // Paulo Bonamigo, the Al Jazira coach, will be without the influential Ricardo Oliveira in attack and Shin Hyung-min in defence against Al Shabab in the Pro League tonight.

But despite the absence of two key players, the Brazilian still expects his team to put up a solid show against his former club at the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium.

"We had six players on two yellow cards after three games and we expected this to happen sooner than later," Bonamigo said.

"It is not unusual to have some players absent either through suspensions or injuries when we are on seven or eight games in the league but in this case we have lost two important players for an important game.

The absence of Oliveira, the former AC Milan forward, is a massive setback and his place is likely to be filled by Ali Mabkhout, the Emirati international who scored the winner in the UAE's 2-1 win over Estonia last Wednesday.

The South Korean centre-back Shin leaves a huge hole in defence against a dangerous Shabab attack made up of the Brazilian trio Ciel, Luiz Henrique, and Edgar Bruno.

"It doesn't matter who is going to play instead of these two but given the opportunity they must play with conviction and a lot of motivation for the team," Bonamigo said.

Jazira are eight points behind Al Ain, the defending champions and league leaders, but the coach thinks there is plenty of time to make up ground because of the four extra matches added to the schedule when the league was expanded to 14 teams.

"It doesn't matter if we are five, six or seven points behind the top team in the table. However, at this stage we don't want to fall too far behind and that's why the three points against Shabab are very important," he said.

Bonamigo also said his time with Shabab before his move to Abu Dhabi does not give him any advantages.

"Having worked at Shabab for two-and-a-half years doesn't give me any inside knowledge of the team. Today the technology is very advanced that everyone knows how to deal with all the teams and players.

"We can only judge the teams and the players on their performances on the pitch. They are still a strong team although they haven't been able to achieve good results."

The Brazilian forward Fernandinho, Jazira's summer signing, has still not impressed but the coach feels he could play a big role in the absence of Oliveira.

"He has still not played as we expected but in the absence of Ricardo we hope he can come out of that with a really good performance, possibly a match winning one," he said. "What I can presume is the fans are going to witness a very good match with both teams looking to win."

Shabab are in a worse situation. They are struggling in the bottom half of the league and the pressure will be on Marcos Paqueta, their Brazilian coach, despite the patience shown by the club management.

apassela@thenational.ae