Sixteen reinforcements have put pen to paper for the Olhão-based club who were relegated from the Segunda Liga last season and will play in the Campeonato de Portugal Prio scheduled to start on the weekend of August 19/20.
Goalkeepers – Cléber Santana (ex-Torreense) and Leandro Turossi (ex-Louletano); Defence – Ivo Nicolau (ex-Portimonense), Pedro Caeiro (ex-Louletano), Ivan Silva (ex-Huggin, Iceland), Materazzi (ex-Fafe), André Dias (ex-Vilaverdense); Midfield – Fábio Felício (ex-Almancilense), Leleco (ex-Felgueiras), Tiago Jogo (ex-Gafanha), Pedro Dias (ex-Operário); Forwards – Rúben Fidalgo (ex-Pinhalnovense), Rodrigo Parreira (ex-Barbadás, Spain), Fábio Martins (ex-Almancilense), Januário (ex-Moncarapachense) and Edinho Júnior (ex-Erndtebruck, Germany).
Edinho Júnior, 23, is returning to his roots. Born in Faro, he progressed through the youth ranks at Olhanense and at one time was rumoured to be on the verge of signing for Glasgow Celtic. Five years ago, he joined Blackburn Rovers and made his debut against Leicester City but went out on-loan to Shillong Lajong (India) and Whitehawk FC (Kent, England) before joining Harrisburg City Islanders (USA). The well-travelled former Portugal U19 international then returned to play for SC Farense before joining Erndtebrück.
A surprise signing was experienced Daniel Materazzi who captained the Olhanense team in 2015/16. The 32-year-old midfield general, along with former Portimonense defender Ivo Nicolau, should bring stability to another wise youthful team. Only Pedro Albino, Pedro Eira, Carlos Freitas, Fabrício and Tiago Barros remain from last season’s squad whilst Dedé, Iuri Candeias, Rui Santos and Nilson have been promoted from the youth side. Some of the players – the squad started their pre-season preparations on Monday – took time out last weekend to visit the Olhão Municipal Market in a charm offensive as they handed out scarves and souvenirs to the locals.
Campeonato de Portugal Prio
Other Algarve teams competing in the league include SC Farense, Lusitano VRSA, Louletano and Almancilense. They are joined by newly-promoted Moncarapachense who have signed goalkeepers Pedro Miguel (ex-Ferreiras) and Wilson (ex-Santaluziense), defender Fábio Teixeira (ex-Almancilense), midfielder Pedro Rodrigues (ex-Lagoa) and forward Jorge Martins (ex-Olhanense B).
Ten players from last season’s successful squad have been re-signed. Former FC Porto and Benfica player João Manuel Pinto continues as manager.
Lusitano (Vila Real de Santo António) have appointed the 48-year-old Italian coach Felice Melchionna as their new boss. Melchionna arrives in the Algarve as a result of the link between Lusitano and Italian entrepreneur Mauro Bousquet who previously had involvement with Italian Serie C outfits Urbs Sportiva Reggina and Calcio Catania (Sicily).
Lusitano already have three pre-season games scheduled against FC Porto B, Vitória de Setúbal (July 15 in Ayamonte) and away at Benfica B (July 22 in Seixal, Setúbal). The team will also participate in the AF Algarve Tournament on July 29/30 with Farense, Olhanense and Louletano, with the winners playing SC Portimonense.
By CHRIS WRIGHT