After a troubled and frenetic summer, Olhanense are now finalising their squad for the coming campaign.
There were signs that the Algarve outfit is knitting together a useful mix of youth and experience in their 1-0 victory over Benfica ‘B’ last Saturday. Played at the Lisbon club’s training centre at Seixal on the Rio Tejo, the game gave coach Xavier a chance to give 10 new players a serious workout. Particularly impressive were Pelé on loan from AC Milan, Oumar Diakhité, the 27-year-old Senegal international, and Nigerian Femi Balogun who scored the only goal. Veteran keeper Ricardo (37), who played 79 times for Portugal, put in a solid shift between the sticks and will be in contention for the number one spot.
Three more young recruits have arrived from Italy in recent days. Sebastian Mladen, a Romanian under-21 international who in recent seasons represented AS Roma; 23 year-old forward Agon Mehmeti from Palermo and attacking midfielder Bigazzi, 24, from Livorno where he helped his team gain promotion to Serie A. Former Benfica full-back Luís Filipe is expected to sign a new contract and if he can keep injury-free his experience will be invaluable.
Midfielder Filip Ozovic, a Croatian U21 international from Hajduk Split, is another young player being assessed by the management team. Tomorrow (Saturday) Olhanense travel to V.Setubal before taking part in the Columbino Tournament in Huelva (Spain) on Wednesday August 7, when opponents Levante will provide stiff opposition. Chris Wright