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Al Shabab’s Paqueta hits back at pressure talk

Brazilian coach insists his job is safe despite poor start to season

Image Credit: ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/Gulf News
Majed Hassan of Al Alhi in action against Dawood Aliof Al Shabab during the Etisalat Pro-League at Al Alhi Club
Gulf News

Dubai: Al Shabab coach Marcos Paqueta insists he feels no pressure despite his team crashing to their fourth loss of the season — 3-2 at home to champions Al Ain — in the seventh round of the Etisalat Pro-League here late on Thursday.

“I have coached in three World Cups. What sort of pressure are you talking about?” the Brazilian responded when asked about the slump of the team since the start of this season.

“The journalists seem to be predicting my sacking from the club every week, but the fact is that I am still here.”

The defeat meant Al Shabab slipped into 12th place in the 14-team league. But Paqueta, who is in his second term with the Al Mamzar club, insisted he is working under limitations. “The facilities and potential here are limited and that is why we are making slow progress,” he said.

“I think I have the confidence of the board of directors of the club and I will continue serving the club.”

Thursday’s match was dominated by the actions of referee Abdul Wahid Qhater, who awarded a penalty kick to each team. “It was not a penalty [for us] when Ciel went down in the area,” Paqueta said. “But as far as the penalty against us, you will have to ask either the spectators or you should answer it.

“But it was a good match and we performed well against a strong team. A coach is judged on the results on the pitch and so far the results have not been in my favour.”

Al Ain coach Cosmin Olaroiu was happy with the three points that gave the defending champions temporary possession of the top spot with 16 points from seven matches. “Al Shabab played well but we were unlucky not to score early from all the opportunities that came our way,” he said. “I spoke to them [the players] at half-time and told them to stay concentrated or else Al Shabab would score. I am glad they followed my advice and we could go away with all three points.”

The Romanian coach was all praise for Asamoah Gyan, his striker from Ghana, whose mother died in a car crash this week. “I spoke to Gyan and told him he could go home if he wanted. But this player chose to stay and play for us. This shows what sort of professional he is and this is something that everyone here should follow, if not emulate,” Olaroiu said.

“And then he scored two goals for us and gave us the three points that we needed so badly. He is such a huge player and he sets a perfect example for what it means to be a professional in football. I am sure his sacrifice will not go in vain.”