Caio Canedo is determined to “make history” with Al Ain this season, as the forward chases down two pieces of major silverware with his new club.
The Brazil-born frontman, who now qualifies to represent the UAE, helped fire the Garden City side into the President's Cup final on Tuesday night, scoring the winner in the 3-2 semi-final victory against Sharjah in Abu Dhabi.
Despite spending almost six seasons in the UAE, Caio has yet to capture a domestic title, although he went agonisingly close on numerous occasions with former club Al Wasl. Two years ago, the Dubai side lost both the League Cup final and the President’s Cup final, the latter coming at the hands of Al Ain.
However, with Al Dhafra to come in the showpiece - while no date has been set, the final could take place at the end of this month - Caio is set to sign off on his first season at Al Ain with tangible success.
The 13-time UAE champions, now managed by Pedro Emanuel, also sit second in the Arabian Gulf League, three points behind Shabab Al Ahli with nine rounds remaining. On Saturday, they take on third-placed Al Jazira, again at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium.
Challenging for - and winning - trophies is exactly why Caio says he joined the club.
"It means so much," he said on shooting his team into the President's Cup final. "Good players get marked in the history of clubs by winning titles. When you don't win titles, nobody remembers the second place. That's the truth.
“Second place for me is not enough. I want to be first in everything; I don’t like to lose. And our main target, my main target, is to win titles. Not even individually, try to be collectively and have success. We’re having that with his coach. This coach is amazing.”
Signed last June, Caio had endured a frustrating start to his Al Ain career on a personal level, with a succession of injuries hampering his output. He has played 13 of 18 matches in the league, scoring six times. In 22 appearances in all, he has 13 goals.
Back to full fitness, though, and with the birth of his first child three months ago, he is enjoying life on and off the pitch once more. It bodes well for the run-in.
“Very excited,” Caio said. “We all know, we cannot hide this: Al Ain is the top team in Asia; very strong, very powerful. I came here to win titles. Like I told you, I want to make history here.
“The year didn’t start the way I wanted it to, with some injuries holding me back. But I continued to trust myself, a lot of patience. I never had injuries like I had here - I had three already. I never had this many injuries in my whole career. It slowed me down a little bit.
“Now I’m more excited. I feel strong, I feel confident. The fans are coming together with me – they’ve never abandoned me, even in the tough moments, they always send me messages on social media, give me support.
"That’s what I need: help from my fans, help from my family. My wife, my new baby daughter. So excited, this is what’s pushing me to go on.”
Caio’s next test is a pretty significant one, when Al Ain return to the capital this weekend to meet Jazira, who sit one spot and four points behind in the standings. Shabab Al Ahli, meanwhile, have won only once in their past four league matches to give hope to the chasing pack.
So, for now at least, thoughts of the President's Cup final have been put to one side.
“Now is not the time to think about that,” Caio said. “Our main focus now is Jazira, for the league. [Shabab Al Ahli] have given us some chance. So we have to win.”