Ponte Preta coach Gilson Kleina is hoping to take his side into the Campeonato Paulista final this weekend with a semi-final victory over Campinas rivals Guarani.
A place in the final against either São Paulo or Santos would be the latest achievement for Kleina, who is christened by Ponte Preta’s fans as ‘Fred Flintstone’.
Gilson Kleina masterminded a shock 3-2 win over tournament favourites Corinthians as the club’s risky decision to invest into the squad appears to have worked.
Languishing in the lower half of Série B in recent years, the Ponte Preta board decided to increase the team’s debt from £32.5 million to £36 million to invest into the squad. Kleina duly delivered, ending Ponte Preta’s five-year absence from the top-flight by guiding the side to third place in last year’s campaign, rejecting the chance to take over Rio de Janeiro giant’s Fluminense in the process, with the midfield signings of William Magrão and Atlético-MG’s Caio playing a significant role in the club’s impressive campaign.
The debt, the club claim, is manageable with the success in the state championship and promotion to the Brasileirão leading to increased sponsorship and television revenue.
Are Fred Flintstone’s Ponte Preta on course to become São Paulo state champions for the first time in their 111-year history?
Campeonato Paulista semi-final:
Sunday 29th April
São Paulo v Santos (16:00)
Guarani v Ponte Preta (18:30)