ALLIANZ LEAGUE CUP
Portimonense were handed a great chance of reaching the League Cup quarter-finals after avoiding ‘big guns’ Porto, Benfica, Sporting and Benfica in last Friday’s group stage draw.
Instead, the Algarveans have been matched up with Nacional da Madeira, Sporting Covilhã (14th and 17th in the second division) and Gil Vicente who are currently 10th in the top tier. A further boost is that the game in Madeira is the only away fixture for manager Paulo Sérgio’s men.
Uniquely this season, and to the detriment of the bigger clubs with many internationals amongst their first team players, the opening ties will be played during the World Cup in Qatar on November 19, 24 and 28. The quarters, semis and final are then scheduled for December 20 to 23, January 24 and 25, and January 28, respectively.
The Algarve’s other professional club, Farense, face first division sides Sporting, Marítimo and Rio Ave.
Before then, the regular league season resumes this weekend following the international break with Portimonense taking on 15th-placed Vizela away on Saturday afternoon, a match for which Sapara, Pedro Sá and Yago Cariello should make their return from injury.
By SKIP BANDELE