x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Risk pays off in style for Bonamigo

The arrival of the Brazilian has been a masterstroke and he guided Al Shabab to Etisalat Cup glory.

ABU DHABI // Bringing Ciel into the Al Shabab side in January was a gamble, Paulo Bonamigo conceded. The flamboyant Brazilian right-side midfielder had a history of trouble fitting into teams and approaching his job in a calm manner.

Four months later, however, Bonamigo and Shabab are big winners, and much of it is due to the man recruited at the start of the year he believes.

"He has brought us offensive quality," Bonamigo said after Ciel scored twice and set up another goal in a 3-2 victory over Al Ain in the Etisalat Cup final.

"Ninety per cent of the games he has been a decisive player. If he didn't score the goal, he made the pass to the person who did.

"So, in this game, it showed again it was a very good idea to bet on Ciel and bring him to the club even though some wondered if it was a good idea. Most everyone agrees that he is an excellent player and he can contribute a lot to the club. He adds a lot to the team.

"In four months, we have had only a few small problems with him. We are controlling him. And now the problems that Ciel brings are not to Al Shabab but to our opponents."

Shabab have won eight and drawn three from 13 domestic matches since Ciel joined the side.

Bonamigo credited his side for keeping their focus despite falling behind 1-0 on an own goal and giving up a 2-1 lead in extra time before Ciel scored the decider in the fourth minute of extra time.

"We have to be well-prepared for everything," he said.

"The game ends only with the whistle, so you have to be fully focused and concentrated and expect anything to happen. If you remember, the semi-final against Al Wahda, we were losing 1-0, and during the game we found a way and changed the result to 3-1.

"The players showed the same mental power today and overcame the difficulties. If you don't have that strength, you might fail."

The trophy was the first for Al Shabab since the Dubai side won the domestic league championship in 2008.

Bonamigo added: "We have to congratulate the whole players because they have improved a lot in recent matches, and as we said before, one of the most important points in this game would be the mental control, and the boys showed that because we gave away the first goal and none of our boys lost their mental control. We changed the result."

He said winning before a crowd that was "80 per cent Al Ain supporters" also was significant.

"It showed the maturity of our side, especially the young boys who were winning the first title of their careers," he added.

"It is a big moment in their professional lives."