x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Sharjah get Portugal's Azenha as new coach

The former FC Porto assistant coach will build his side around the Brazilian forward Oliveira and hates losing.

Azenha can speak Arabic fluently.
Azenha can speak Arabic fluently.

Carlos Azenha was last night unveiled as the new coach of Pro League club Sharjah.

Azenha, who was the assistant coach of FC Porto when they won three consecutive Portuguese league title from 2006 to 2008, last season coached Portimonense, a Portuguese second division team.

“I had plenty of offers from around the world, including Europe, but I chose Sharjah because of their history,” Azenha said.

“When I received this offer, that is the first thing I checked. So I will try my best to restore the club to their past glories.”

Sharjah were the dominant club in UAE football during the 1980s and 1990s, winning five league titles and eight President’s Cups. They have struggled in recent years though and their last success came in the 2003 President’s Cup.

They have finished in the bottom half of the 12-team Pro League for the past three seasons, avoiding the ignominy of relegation in 2009 when they pulled out of the Asian Champions League to focus on the battles at home. Last season they finished seventh.

“I will not make any promises, except that I will work hard and try to win every game,” Azenha, 44, said. “I hate losing and will accept defeat only if I know the opposition has played at not just one, but three or four levels higher than us. So that is what the fans can expect.

"I want to leave a good impression here about Portuguese coaches and I hope the fans will support me and the team. I also hope they will be patient because I will need time to understand the football that is played here.”

Sharjah have had a Portuguese coach, Manuel Cajuda, for the past two seasons, but he left the club towards the end of last season after a string of poor results. The club, however, have kept faith in the Portuguese school of coaching.

“If we talk frankly, the Portuguese coaches are top of the world at the moment,” Ibrahim al Nimr, the chief executive manager of the club said. “They have good records and this is also one of the reasons why we chose Azenha.

“We have a committee, which saw the CVs of all the coaches and we found Azenha to be the best. He is young and ambitious, and he wants to create a reputation for himself in this region. That is the reason why we picked him. He has promised to work hard and try to achieve our ambitions of finishing in the top three next season.”

Work will start for Azenha when the players return from their break in the first week of July. Until then, the management will be discussing players with their new coach.

Sharjah have retained only Marcelo Oliveira from last season’s foreign players and al Nimr said there will be changes among the local players as well. Whatever the team, Azenha has made clear what he expects from the players.

“I want to create a strong, professional team here at Sharjah and I will expect my players to play at the same tempo from the first to the 90th minute,” he said. “And I will expect that from all the players because football is a team sport.”

arizvi@thenational.ae