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Jia You, TEDA!

 

 

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Alexandre Guimar茫es was born in Brazil, but has lived most of his life in Costa Rica where he was National Champion 3 times with top football team Deportivo Saprissa. He also played for the Costa Rican National team in the 1990 World cup before retiring as a player to take up coaching. His second career has been equally successful, working with football clubs and national teams around the world. Now he is working as Chief Coach for Tianjin TEDA Football Club.

 

He took some time out from a training session at the Olympic Park stadium to tell Tianjin Plus about his remarkable career and his goal of leading the city’s premier team towards the top of China’s Super league.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your life as a footballer and then as coach?

Football has been my life. I was born in Brazil and football is a way of life there. I started playing very early at 8 years old, then my family moved to Costa Rica where I have lived ever since. I finished high school and college when I was 18 years old. I was then playing football, as well as basketball, and I had to make a decision which way to continue. I chose to play football professionally because it’s in my veins. 

 

At 24 I got my Costa Rican nationality and a few years later I played for the Costa Rican national team in the 1990 World Cup in Italy. After that experience I knew that I had to continue in this profession. 

 

I retired as a footballer 2 years later and studied for 2 years to become a professional coach. I first coached a number of clubs in Costa Rica, including Deportivo Saprissa where I had been National Champion, and then things started happening very fast. I got married, had kids and now I have started to coach abroad. I worked in Guatemala before returning to coach the Costa Rican national team in the 2002 world cup in Japan and Korea. At that time I started to get calls from China but it was not the right time. I went to Mexico for a while then I returned and coached the national team again for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Then I went to Panama to work with the national team and in 2009 I took a coaching position at a club in the United Arab Emirates for almost 2 years. 

 

By this time, my family was starting to get older and move away. One son was playing professional football; first in Norway, now in Sweden. The other son chose to study Cinematography and went to Spain to complete his studies. Then the invitation came to work in China again and I decided it was now the right time.

 

Is coaching a Chinese team different to coaching in other parts of the world?

It is different because of the culture. You have to adapt, you have to be very flexible in my way of coaching. I like the relationship, the players have been wonderful and their interaction with our supporters is very good too. Communication is the hardest thing, we have 5 foreign players; 2 Brazilians, a Serbian, a Columbian guy and an Australian guy who is also Asian. Thanks to my father I speak Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and Italian. So communication has not been too much of a problem. The work is not different with the foreign players but they also have to adapt to being in China. 

 

What are the responsibilities of the head coach of Tianjin TEDA Football Club?

I have to attend to everything about the first team, training, practice, scouting, videos, and motivation, basically everything that surrounds me. I have assistance from two Chinese coaches, but in terms of the responsibility and supervision aspects, I have to control them. 

 

In what way has the game changed since you were a player?

In the time when I was a player you could be a sportsman and play professionally, but now that’s not possible. You must be an athlete to be a professional and that’s totally different. The game is much faster and that reduces the spaces. Football is a way to gain space and the faster you gain the space the more possibility you have to win the game. Also tactically, players have to be much more versatile. It’s changed a lot but it continues to be a fantastic game.

 

Is Chinese football different compared with other parts of the world?

Yes in the last 3 seasons the league has changed a lot. More important players and different types of coaches have come. You can play up to 3 foreign players and 1 from another Asian country. Most of the teams have 4 foreign players in case there is any injury or suspension, so now it’s a good mix. I think with all the experience, methodologies and knowledge they bring to football it is helping to improve the whole game. The foreign players know they have to do something in order to help Chinese football to improve. Certainly the foreign players in TEDA have been very professional and know they are here to help. 

 

How long do you think it will be before the Chinese super league is at the same level as the European Premier leagues?

The level of the tournament is improving but it’s a long way from that standard. First it has to be much more competitive in Asia. Some clubs are making this effort. The face you show the outside world is always the national team. China needs to be very alert to see how they can manage to get all the improvements that the local tournaments have and put it there in the national team, but that takes a long time.

 

Are there TEDA players that you think play at that level?

I think TEDA has 1 or 2 players, at least, who could play at that level, but they have not been called so far. I have spent 6 or 7 years as national coach for different countries and I know that if you choose someone or don’t choose someone it is because you have a reason. I don’t know the reason why the TEDA players have not been called so far, so I have to respect their decision.

 

Will you be going to the world cup in 2014?

I hope to be going to the world cup because it’s in my country, so I really hope to go. I was working in 2010 in South Africa with a FIFA technical group study. I was working with 18 different coaches from all over the world to produce reports about different tactics and techniques, fitness etc of the different national teams. The information is used to help develop football through the federations such as the Asian Federation. So maybe I will be invited to do this again in Brazil. If Costa Rica qualifies for the world cup then it’s possible my son will be playing and that would be fantastic.

 

What changes are you planning for the future?

When I took the decision last year to continue here, I took it thinking about the improvement of the team and the fight to get a place in the top of the league. Then because of an event that happened with the club in 2003, the Chinese Football Association gave us a sanction. This meant we started this season with minus 6 points. It completely changed our objective of the season. Now to finish at the top is a huge, huge goal.  But the team has been doing very well; it’s unfortunate that in the last 2 games the results have not matched our performance. We have to get some points, so the next games are very important for us.

 

Support your local team

You can experience live top class football and spend a thrilling evening cheering on your team throughout the warm summer evenings. Get tickets on the evening at the Olympic Park Stadium and let’s help Mr. Guimaraes to push Tianjin TEDA up the league and into next year’s AFC Champions League by shouting “Jia You TEDA!”

 

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11/05/13
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04/08/13
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21/09/13
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30/10/13

Fixtures for 2013 season

 

 

 

 

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