Algarve Eagles

Usual venue Vila Real de Santo António hosted Portugal’s most prestigious pre-season tournament, the Guadiana Cup,

last weekend.

This year domestic champions Benfica were joined by top Dutch side Feyenoord and ambitious English Premiership title contenders Aston Villa, who set up camp at the Oceânico Amendoeira Golf Resort

near Silves.

“This is a great resort and the pitch is fantastic, especially since Sunderland have been out on their training camp and used it every day for nine days,” manager Martin O’Neill enthused, adding: “The conditions have been very hot but there is a feel-good factor to training in the sun – the players will appreciate the days they have spent here.”

At the start of the tournament, these benefits seemed to manifest themselves as Feyenoord were seen off with ease, but much fitter final opponents Benfica proved a different proposition. Already well advanced in their preparations, the Eagles tore into the Midlands side, scoring four times without reply during 49 fast and furious minutes before substitute John Carew managed to pull one back for Villa.

Nonetheless O’Neill, incidentally a frequent visitor to the region’s golf courses, will have drawn some valuable experience from his latest stay here ahead of a long and arduous season ahead.