Caio focused on AFC Champions League glory with Al-Ain
Caio focused on AFC Champions League glory with Al-Ain
The pain of losing the 2016 final still lingers for the UAE club, who are desperate to add a second continental title after winning the inaugural edition of the tournament back in 2003.
Fortune has already favored Al-Ain. Shabab Al-Ahli’s ineligibility for this year’s edition has gifted the club a spot in today’s playoff against Bahraini champions Malkiya. The pain of the defeat to South Korea’s Jeonbul Hyundai in the 2016 final still lingers for many and Caio is all too aware of the need to go far in this year’s competition.
“It is really important,” Caio told Arab News.
“(It’s) a great championship, and we’ve been always there. We want to show our strength and win this title.
“(The defeat to Jeonbul Hyundai) makes us sad. We did a great job to get there, and at the end we didn’t get what we wanted.
“We’re focused now and
we’re going to fight to do well
in the year’s competition.”
Born in Araçatuba, near Sao Paulo, Caio moved to Japan when he was only 17, having been spotted by Chiba Kokusai High School during a trial in his native Brazil.
Helping the school to a historic fourth place at the national high school tournament, a prestigious annual event in Japan, Caio caught the eye of one of Japan’s most successful clubs, Kashima Antlers, and was soon strutting his stuff in the J.League.
Along the way he collected the J.League Rookie of the Year in 2014, becoming the first, and so far only, foreigner to receive the award.
Having lived in Japan since 2011, and impressing as he did, before long there was talk of the winger being naturalized and playing for the Samurai Blue.
“I would accept it, without any doubt,” he told JSoccer Magazine in 2014. “This country has helped me a lot, I turned professional here. I think I owe a lot to Japan.”
But in 2016, and nearing five years in Japan that would make him eligible for naturalization under FIFA’s rules, an offer came from Al-Ain.
“It was really hard to leave Kashima,” Caio explained.
“I was playing very well
and scoring, but it was my choice
to be in another place, with
Eighteen months on and Caio has no regrets over his decision to move and also give up the opportunity to represent Japan, which he says is now behind him.
“I like here very much,” he said. “(The UAE) is a great country to live in. Here you can live with joy and peace. I really like it here.
“There’s no chance of (playing for Japan). There was before when I was playing in Japan, but I needed to be there one more year. It’s in the past now, it’s not going to happen anymore.”
With Japan widely regarded as the leading nation in Asian football, Caio is uniquely positioned to compare football in the Emirates to that in the Land of the Rising Sun.
“Japanese football is a bit faster, more dynamic,” he said.
“Here is more about fighting, giving it all on the pitch, (a bit) slower. But I have no doubt that here or in Japanese football there are many good games to watch, excellent matches.”
Having eased ahead of Al-Wasl on the table since the resumption of the league in early January, Al-Ain are on track for their first league title since 2015.
“I’m very satisfied with the level of our work and our intensity,” he said. “We’re really focused on our goal, and that is to be champions.”
While his own personal output may have dropped when it comes to goals scored, scoring just once in 12 matches, compared to the 12 goals he scored last season, the 23-year-old is happy to put team success first.
“I haven’t scored many goals this year, but I believe I’ve been really useful for the team,” he said.
“Scoring is important, but at the end the tittle is what really counts. I’ve worked and given my best, so, no doubt, goals are going to come.”
With speculation mounting over the future of Al-Wasl’s Brazilian striker Fabio de Lima, who has been linked with a move to Europe at the end of the season, Caio says that while he too has dreams of playing in Europe, he is happy to repay the faith shown in him by Al-Ain.
“Every single player dreams of playing in Europe or to even win the Champions League,” he explained.
“(But) at this moment, I’m just focused on helping Al Ain to win titles here, and give them back all they have been giving me.”
Celtics beat Cavs in Game 5, lead NBA Eastern Conference finals 3-2
- Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and the Celtics held LeBron James to two fourth-quarter points.
- Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary.
BOSTON: LeBron James is tired. The young Boston Celtics seem to be getting stronger.
Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.
“I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That’s when I have the most fun,” said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie record of 10 in a postseason.
“I can’t say it enough: We’re one win away from being in the finals,” Tatum said. “The playoffs bring the best out of people.”
Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
“We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7,” said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. “It’s up to us to see if we can come back here for one more.”
Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown had 17 points for Boston. Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA’s All-Rookie team.
“The sky’s the limit” for Tatum , Brown said. “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s my workout partner. I expect it in myself and I expect it in him.”
Kevin Love scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who are trying to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season. James has played to the end in seven straight seasons.
To extend that streak, he’ll need to win two in a row.
One of them will be in Boston.
“Our focus — LeBron’s focus — is to win,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Celtics opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and nursed it the rest of the way, holding on through a four-minute scoring drought that saw Cleveland score nine straight points to cut the deficit to 83-71. But Terry Rozier hit Horford with an alley-oop to snap the skid, and that was as close as the Cavs would get.
Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each scored 13.
James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.
“I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be,” he said. “I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win.”
GOONING IT UP
Boston went on a 15-3 run in the first quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics scored nine in a row at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 36-19 lead, their biggest of the game.
That’s when the Cavaliers fought back .
After a hard defensive play by Morris sent Larry Nance Jr. into the first row of seats, Morris appeared to wander over and say something. Nance to jump up and body checked him; Morris responded with a one-handed shove to the face.
Aron Baynes and Brown came in to break it up, and Terry Rozier put a body on Nance. After a review, the referees called technicals on Rozier, Nance and Morris. Kyle Korver made the foul shot to make it 36-20 and Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 36-28.
But Morris made a long 3-pointer to stop the scoring drought, and soon hit another to cap an 8-2 run that made it a double-digit lead.
Smart said the Celtics wanted to more aggressive at home.
“At their place, they were the aggressor,” he said. “That showed and they came up with the victory. We just wanted to be that team tonight.”
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. ... James had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists at the half. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. ... Baynes made his first start of the series, subbing for Morris. ... It took until midway through the third quarter for a Cavs starter other than James or Love to make a basket. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. ... The Celtics were 10-0 in the playoffs at home in 1986. ... Horford had his 7th double-double of the postseason, matching a career high he set in 2015.