Dubai: Even a home win and full points looked insufficient as rumours of Al Shabab coach Caio Junior being relieved of his job with The Hawks continued to float at the end of their 24th round of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) against visiting Emirates Club, on Friday.
With Abu Dhabi TV announcing Junior’s sacking immediately after the match, Brazilian striker Henrique Luvannor scored a second half brace and Rashid Hassan doubled as provider and scorer before Australian Brett Holman pulled one back as Al Shabab picked up full points.
With the Brazilian coach reportedly being served an ultimatum to arrest the slide at the Al Mamzar club, it was Luvannor rising to the occasion with goals in the 48th and 82nd minute while Rashid Hassan wedged in one in the 55th minute.
After the home side had taken a comfortable looking 2-0 cushion early in the second half, it was Australian Brett Holman who had managed to keep things alive with a goal in the 71st minute.
The win ensured Al Shabab maintained their pace for a third-place finish and a spot for next season’s Asian Champions League along with Al Nasr, Al Wasl and Al Wahda. Al Ahli are at the summit for a possible seventh league crown with 59 points, while defending champions Al Ain are in second with 53 points.
Al Shabab joined Al Wahda and Al Wasl – who were to play their match later on Friday in Abu Dhabi – on 36 points apiece, while Al Nasr hold a one-point advantage in third place with 37 to their credit.
Caio Junior, who attended the customary post-match interaction with the media insisted that he has not been informed by any of the management about his dismissal. “We have had many problems during the season and I have given my maximum to build this team while creating new players for the future. I would like to stay here, but this is not left up to me,” Junior said.
“I have not heard anything until now, and in case these rumours are true then this is very bad. I deserve respect. I have a history as a coach,” he added.
“I have one more year left on my contract and no one from administration has informed me so far that I have been sacked from the club,” he insisted.
After a barren and boring first half, it was Rashid Hassan bringing the match to life as he first laid up Luvannor for the opener in the 48th minute with a dainty cross from the left. The Brazilian controlled inside the area and sent in an overhead kick that found the farthest corner of the net.
On the 55th minute, Hassan made it 2-0 as his nippy pace helped him nod home a perfect ball from skipper Carlos Villaneuva. However, the visitors fought on and were rewarded in the 71st minute when Holman pulled one back after catching the Al Shabab defence napping.
But Luvannor headed in his second and the last goal of the match to help his team to full points and the likelihood for the third and final spot in the continental competition next season.
Al Shabab x Emirates Club 3-1