x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Things are finally looking up for Vieira at Kalba

Pro League side haul themselves off the bottom of the table, but there is still more work to do.

MADINAT ZAYED // When Jorvan Vieira took over as coach of struggling side Kalba in November, he remembers that some questioned why he had bothered. "When I came here, everybody said, 'Vieira is crazy. He must be doing it for the money'," the Brazilian said last night. "But I have just spent €1 million to build a football academy in Portugal. This is not about money.

"And I remember the newspaper headline: 'Kalba is in a coma.' Now my players are alive and very well." Gregory Dufrennes, the French forward, scored twice as visitors Kalba defeated Al Dhafra 2-1 in a battle of relegation-zone sides and hauled themselves off of the bottom of the Pro League table for the first time this season.

Kalba are now on 14 points, 13 of them since Vieira took charge in the ninth round of the season. They have been particularly dangerous in their past four matches, racking up 10 points thanks to victories over Al Wahda and Baniyas and a draw with Al Ahli.

Vieira is known for getting teams to over-achieve; he led Iraq to the Asian Cup championship in 2007, one of the greatest upsets in football history. But he insisted on giving credit to his players, who are largely the same men who struggled under the former coach, Ednaldo Patricio.

"We call this work," he said. "Nobody makes a point by luck only. If you're not working, you can't get points."

Dhafra's defeat at home, deep in the desert, dropped them to the bottom of the table on 12 points. Since ruining the Al Ahli debuts of Fabio Cannavaro and David O'Leary on the first night of the season, Dhafra have struggled. Their new coach, the Syrian Mohammed Kwid, said he still has hope for his side.

"I have a chance to look at my players, and we have six matches left," he said.

Boris Kabi, the striker from the Ivory Coast, scored in the 78th minute to cut Kalba's lead in half, but they never found an equaliser.

Vieira, 57 and a veteran of coaching throughout the Gulf, said: "I think the difference is our team are coming up after very good results, and Dhafra are in trouble, and their coach left, and now they have a new coach. I think they have played well, but football is like this."

He said Kalba have much work to do to avoid being one of the two sides relegated at the end of the Pro League season.

'We have six matches to play, 18 points. I need a minimum of nine or 10 more to save my neck," he said.

Also in the relegation mix: Al Ain, who also have 14 points, and Dubai, are on 15.