DUBAI // Dubai club's new coach, Junior dos Santos, is confident he can retain their Arabian Gulf League status after he replaced Umberto Barberis earlier this week.
The Brazilian, who managed the club for eight months during the 2010/11 season, has been parachuted into the division’s bottom side to save their season with seven matches remaining.
Dubai are currently the top tier's worst team in points gathered, as they sit rooted to the basement having registered two victories from 19 league rounds. At present, they are six points from safety, with Al Shaab and Ajman the two clubs directly above them.
Barberis had been identified in November as the man to guide Dubai from the relegation zone, yet he struggled to make an impact and departed the Dubai Sports and Cultural Club Stadium having overseen two wins in 16 games across all competitions.
He is succeeded by Dos Santos, who said he plans to use the current break in the league programme to lift the spirit of a demoralised squad. Dubai’s next match is away to Al Wasl on March 22, before they face a crucial run that includes must-win clashes against Ajman and Al Shaab.
“I have great confidence in the players for the next phase, in order to achieve victories in the remaining matches and stay Arabian Gulf League,” Dos Santos said. “My job is to restore the players’ confidence, and work to achieve victories and win points during the next five games, and then raise morale and increase enthusiasm that we will achieve our goal to remain the competition.”
Dos Santos insists his previous time at the club should serve him well, as he already knows many of the players now at his disposal. He also backed Dubai’s foreign contingent – Salaheddine Saidi, Mustafa Conde, Gilles Yapi Yapo and Jehad Fadel Alhussien – to contribute significantly to the survival push.
“I cannot judge them or haven’t been able to assess them during the current period, so I must give them the opportunity to prove themselves,” he said. “Then we can judge them. The important thing for me now is that they have the ability to give more effort to the team.
“When I bet on the ability of my players to overcome this current obstacle, it stems from confidence in their abilities and potential.”
Dubai will hope Dos Santos has a similar impact to the one he had in the 2010/11 campaign, when he replaced Egyptian Ayman al Hamadi to take the reins of a side who had lost seven of their opening eight league matches.
However, under Dos Santos Dubai then managed to record seven victories from the following 14 games to remain in the top flight. He is therefore convinced he can again help the club stave off the drop.
“It’s a challenge for myself, but I have a lot of ideas to pull the team from its current status, and now I’m at the club I take responsibility,” he said. “I do not fear anyone because I have skillful players and I have the ability to use their capabilities to achieve positive results during their upcoming games.”
Dos Santos’s arrival marks the 10th managerial change in the Arabian Gulf League this season, and comes in the same week Wasl parted company with Hector Cuper, their Argentine coach.
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