Fernando Alonso taking the R26 to victory in 2006.jpg

Fighting chance

By SKIP BANDELE

On paper, Portimonense’s latest 3-0 home defeat to Braga appears to spell out the beginning of the end of the club’s stay in the top flight.

On the other hand, the Algarveans are operating on a shoestring since unexpectedly achieving promotion at the end of last season and were matching forces with a team very successful at European level only 12 months ago.

Carlos Azenha’s men held their own for 45 minutes before the visitors were able to make their class tell during ten second half minutes.

Portimão, beaten but not bowed, welcomed experienced on-loan Marítimo central midfielder André Vilas Boas this week and will be hoping that a return to their own city centre stadium at the beginning of next month will provide a change of fortune.

Although currently occupying one of the two relegation places, looks can be deceiving. To this observer the next three games will be vital in defining the club’s survival chances.

With a maximum of 42 points still to be played for the five-point gap to fellow minnows Rio Ave is not that great.

Secondly, bottom club Naval are the opponents tomorrow (Saturday) before mid-table Paços de Ferreira are sure to receive a hot reception on February 6.

The points on offer from those two encounters can be made to be invaluable if Portimão can land a success in the third match of this trilogy which sees them taking on Rio Ave.

Once this cycle has been completed, and only then, will it be possible to make any real predictions about the future.

Looking downwards, it is hard to envisage any of the three Algarve clubs rising from the second division to compete in the Liga de Honra and possible top tier status next season.

Loulé, best placed in eighth but already 12 points off the pace, lost 2-1 at home again while Lagoa and Faro are still struggling to find a way out of the relegation zone.