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.”
‘Disrespectful, disgusting’ — Bayern bosses attack German media
- Criticism of Bayern’s stars, particularly Bayern captain Manuel Neuer, who has struggled for form after twice fracturing his foot in 2017, has clearly irked senior Bayern figures
- Back-to-back league defeats against Hertha Berlin and Borussia Moenchengladbach have left Bayern sixth in the Bundesliga table
BERLIN: Bayern Munich bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness on Friday launched a fierce attack on the German media over “disrespectful and disgusting” reporting amid a rare four-match winless streak for the Bundesliga champions.
“FC Bayern will no longer accept this manner (of reporting),” fumed Rummenigge, who even quoted a paragraph of the German constitution which says “human dignity shall be inviolable.”
“Obviously you no longer think about dignity and decorum anymore,” he told reporters.
“There seem to be no boundaries anymore, especially for the media and even ‘experts’ who have played at this club.”
Criticism of Bayern’s stars, particularly Bayern captain Manuel Neuer, who has struggled for form after twice fracturing his foot in 2017, has clearly irked the senior Bayern figures.
Rummenigge revealed Bayern have even taken legal action against several German media outlets.
Back-to-back league defeats against Hertha Berlin and Borussia Moenchengladbach have left Bayern sixth in the Bundesliga table — four points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund before Saturday’s match at Wolfsburg.
Bayern have won the past six German league titles — often by a huge points margin — meaning criticism of the club is a rare occurrence.
Rummenigge and Hoeness certainly appear to be struggling to cope with the recent broadsides aimed at Bayern.
“We will not put up with this slanderous and degrading coverage,” said Rummenigge.
“We will protect our players, our coach and also the club from today.”
Hoeness, Bayern’s president, continued by singling out individual journalists for fierce criticism, “we will not accept disrespectful, disgusting coverage.”
Bayern’s sports director Hasan Salihamidzic, who also attended the hastily-arranged press conference, fired back at criticism that he has not supported head coach Niko Kovac enough publically.
“That was respectless, it has never come into question that there is a problem with Niko,” fumed Salihamidzic.
“It’s not on to criticize the entire work of the club, I was outraged how unashamed and disrespectful the coverage was.”