Al Shabab’s Caio Junior relishes facing old friend Paulo Bonamigo

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Plotting against a pal: Caio Junior.

Al Shabab coach Caio Junior is looking forward to a meeting with an old friend when the Hawks travel to Sharjah for their Arabian Gulf Cup semi-final clash.

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The Hawks supremo and Paulo Bonamigo were team-mates during their playing days at Brazilian giants Gremio during the mid-1980s. Junior, 49, was a youthful striker while his opposite number for Friday’s tie was tasked with supplying him from midfield.

They meet again in the UAE, the chance to fight for silverware on the line.

“I think it is interesting to have two Brazilian coaches at this stage of the competition,” Caio Junior said. “We are close friends, as we played together at Gremio many years ago.

“I don’t know how it will affect the game. I know about Bonamigo’s personality and ideas, and he knows about mine. 

“But the most important thing is how the players perform on the field. We have to believe in our capacity to get to the final.”

Sharjah took top spot in Group B, a 94th-minute winner from Wanderley against Emirates Club in the final game securing home advantage in the last four. The striker is one of four Brazilians in the King ranks, a factor not lost on their countryman Caio Junior.

He said: “Sharjah individually pose a lot of threat, especially with Wanderley and Leo Lima. They are the core of the team.”

Caio Junior tasted success in his previous stint managing in the UAE, guiding Al Jazira to the President’s Cup in 2012. He was looking to create another lasting legacy at the Hawks.

“I believe to leave your mark in a club you coach you have to win titles,” he said. “There is a good chance of doing that at Al Shabab.

“We won the President’s Cup at Al Jazira, and I also claimed three titles at [Qatar’s] Al Gharafa. That is what I really want.”

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