By CHRIS WRIGHT
Your favourite football team has three important football games in eight days, all away from home with a minimum round trip of seven hours, so what do you do?
That was the dilemma facing Olhanense fans. Organise a weekend trip to the furtherest venue – V.Guimarães – and watch the other two games against Benfica on TV was the preferred option.
But this happy band of expat fans, including several new recruits, decided that any game against Benfica should be celebrated in style so they invaded the sleepy hamlet of Butoque near Santo Estevão.
Café Chaminé warmly welcomed the vocal expat fans for the Portugal Cup match between last season‘s league champions and the Algarve’s top team.
As the group settled down to watch the big game on TV shock news came through that Olhanense’s influential centre-back Jardel had agreed terms with Benfica that very morning and would not be playing.
With Vinicius already sold to Braga and Olhanense still awaiting international clearance for their two new Chilean signings, the squad was sadly depleted.
But with the smallest playing budget in the Premier League, €1.4million compared with Benfica’s €45million, transfer income is important to balance the books.
As kick-off approached, the banquet was prepared. Everyone brought food, which was shared with the local Benfica fans, and battle commenced! Nearly everyone on the Algarve supports Benfica or Sporting and this was no exception.
Fresh from their first away victory, 1-0 at Rio Ave, Olhanense were hoping for a massive slice of good fortune if they were to get any sort of result at the Stadium of Light.
As Benfica, prolific at home, raced into a 3-0 half-time lead it was game over. Two further goals in the second-half completed the rout but the fans were still in party mood and there was still the question of a table football competition with Emily and Neil Richardson taking the honours.
As the Algarve Resident went to print, Olhanense had to do it all again against Benfica but this time in the League Cup.