Goal.Com’s Karim Fathi spoke with Al-Arabi [Qatar] boss Ze Mario about his career up until this point, as well as his current challenges with the Qatari outfit.Ze Mario is one of football's great travelers. Having coached clubs in his native Brazil in the early 1980s, he moved to the Middle East in 1986 to take over the Iraqi national youth side. Since then he's bounced around the Gulf and beyond, even coaching Japanese side Kashima Antlers, the Saudi Arabian national team and also Qatar. Goal.com's Karim Fathi spoke to the 59-year-old Rio native about his challenges to come with Al-Arabi of Qatar, and also took a glimpse at the past...
Karim Fathi (KF): How is it in Qatar with your new club, Al-Arabi?
Ze Mario (ZM): It's great. The players believe me when I tell them something. That’s the most important thing.
KF: How long is the contract?
ZM: My contract ends in season 2008/2009.
KF: Whats different between Al-Arabi now, and the Al-Arabi you used to train in 1992?
ZM: There is little difference. The players now have more technical conditions to them, but the club needs organization.
KF: The beginning of a new season has come, and there's an early cup already. Do you think that will boost the confidence of your players?
ZM: Sure, it will give them confidence, motivation, and faith.
KF: You have played three matches so far and scored 14 goals! What would you say about that?
ZM: Not every team is perfect. Not even our team isn’t perfect. But we've had enough luck to score goals.
KF: What do you think of the new acquisitions, Salman Eissa and Lomane Lua Lua?
ZM: Salman Eissa has already adapted to the Arab style of play, but Lua-Lua will play in the Arab Gulf for the first time. He needs to train hard so he can adapt. Step by step, Lua-Lua will become better.
KF: People have attacked Brazilian striker Kim because of his weight, what will you do about that?
ZM: He arrived from Nice [his previous club] a bit overweight. Now he’s better and I am sure that his performance will be better with each game.
KF: What do you think about Suleymane Keita?
ZM: Keita has become better now. He is playing with two touches, and that’s how a midfielder should play.
KF: And Leonardo Pisculischi?
ZM: He was also overweight, but now he is starting to recover his fitness.
Goals, Not Aims
KF: What is your aim with Al-Arabi in this new season?
ZM: I don’t set aims. I only prefer to think about training and wait for the beginning of the season.
KF: Do you think that your squad is complete or are there other players you need in certain positions?
ZM: Every club needs new players. We have two players in each position. That’s enough. Some players are young; that's good, as I especially like to work with young players.
KF: You have never continued with a club for more than three years. Do you think you can do that with Al-Arabi now?
ZM: As I said above, I don’t like to work more than 2 years in the same club. Arab and Brazilian clubs are different from European ones. It’s more difficult.
No ComparisonKF: Do you think you can do what great coaches like Adilson Fernandes and Henri Michel failed with Al-Arabi?
ZM: I prefer to work in silence rather than thinking about being better than former coaches.
KF: Let’s talk seriously. Why did you leave Al-Wasl?
ZM: I had friendships with many people in Al-Wasl. But two years there were enough.
KF: But you managed to win more than one cup with them in you first season, which is considered an achievement for the unknown club?
ZM: I can’t stay more than two years in the same club. I don’t like that. I have a mission with each club and I work to achieve this mission in my two years.
KF: Why didn’t you sign for Al-Shabab, who contacted you before Al-Arabi?
ZM: I signed with Al-Shabab, but they didn’t want me. So I cancelled the contract.
KF: Do you put money in your top priority for accepting to train a club?
ZM: Sure, why not. First, I want to know the conditions of the club, and what they can give me. The conditions aren’t just about players; it’s also about developing training methods and facilities.
KF: What tactics do you prefer?
ZM: I have no preferred tactics. First, I need to know about the characteristics of my players. After that, I’ll choose the tactics depending on the players I have.
KF: Which do you care more about: stamina or technique?
ZM: Football today needs stamina because the field is considerable. But without technique, you can’t play. So a good coach must care about both.
KF: Sometimes people say that you fight star players and don’t like them. What could you comment about that?
ZM: It’s not true. I coached many famous players without any problems. Star players must work hard with the rest of their team mates. They are the equal to me. Each one has a certain obligation inside the field, but they must train hard.
KF: You’ve gone from clubs in Brazil into Asia and back to Brazil then back to Asia. Why take such ae trip?
ZM: Arab clubs respect me and believe in the way I work. In the other hand, football in Brazil is too confused now. So, I prefer to work here.
KF: You’ve coached the Saudi and Qatar national teams, but didn’t stay for long. Why is that?
ZM: During my reign in Saudi Arabia, I worked for more than a year. In Qatar, I didn’t stay for a long time because I needed to help Brazilian coach Zico. Zico is my best friend. He left Kashima Antlers to be the director of Brazil in the France World Cup 1998. So he asked me to go train Kashima Antlers, and I couldn’t say no!
KF: Can we see you one day as the manager of Brazil National team?
ZM: No way! I don’t like for work for national teams. It only brings you trouble. I prefer to work for clubs in which I can train my players every day. On the contrary, with a national team, you only see your players once every 2 or 3 months. I don’t like that.
KF: Why haven’t we seen Ze Mario in Europe?
ZM: Brazilian coaches aren’t welcomed in Europe. I feel I can work anywhere but it’s too difficult in Europe.
KF: Do you think that one day you could coach in Africa?
ZM: Why not? I am a professional coach and if they give me good conditions, I will work in Africa.
KF: What are the most clubs that you liked best?
ZM: I like all the clubs that I’ve been working for. But the club I loved most of all was Al-Riyadh. This club opened the door for me when others didn’t. They have a special place in my heart.
KF: What could you say about Kashima Antlers in Japan?
ZM: They are a very organized club. They had many top players, from Brazil and Japan. I was very happy there. We won the league in 1998.
KF: You have been to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Japan. Which country is the best for living in?
ZM: All the countries that I lived in are fine.
KF: You have been into 20 different clubs/nations from the beginning of your career. Don’t you think you could break a world record?
ZM: Absolutely, but many coaches have trained more teams than me.
KF: What do you say to Nashat Akram, as you are the one who discovered him?
ZM: If he raises his level to one of professionalism, then he can play anywhere.
KF: When will you end your managerial career?
ZM: Only God knows about my life.
KF: Would you like to say a word for Goal.Com visitors?
ZM: Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak about my life. All my answers are from my heart. I hope Goal.Com can be the best site for football in the world and deliver its message to everyone.
KF: Thank you very much!