Portimonense concluded their busy pre-season schedule with two home defeats of very contrasting character.
Last Wednesday’s visit from French top division runners-up Lille was a proper test which had manager António Folha field most of his expected starting eleven, at least for the first hour of the encounter. A cohesive defensive display with some good forward momentum created by Rômulo in particular could not disguise the continuing lack of fire-power up front, however, and the visitors took the lead from a corner early in the second half. A similar situation at the other end of the pitch then saw Lucas Possignolo level the scores before Bamba tucked away the winner from the penalty spot amongst a stream of substitutions soon after.
The subsequent and last ‘friendly’ on Friday evening against the Rui Faria-managed Qatari side Al-Duhail could not have been more different. Starting with mostly reserve team players, Portimonense were outplayed during the first hour and fell behind to an Almoez strike just before the interval.
Wholesale changes put the Algarveans firmly in charge for the final period of play, a turnaround which was met with unnecessary aggression and heavy tackles by the visitors from the Middle East. The situation culminated in a head-butt by Al-Duhail’s Ali Afif on Portimonense’s Iury Castilho, the incident persuading referee Nuno Alvo to end the contest five minutes before full time had been reached.
Portimonense are now preparing for the first official match of the 2019/20 campaign which is the Allianz League Cup second round home tie with Académica this Saturday at 6pm. The Coimbra side overcame Farense 4-3 in an opening round (did not include top division clubs) penalty shoot-out last week after the game finished 1-1 at the end of normal time.
Portimonense will also open the league season the following Friday, August 9 when Belenenses provide the opposition at the Municipal Stadium, kick-off at 8.30pm.
In other news, Portimonense have made a highly unusual loan signing in the shape of Manchester City’s Marlos Moreno. The now 22-year-old Colombian forward was regarded as an emerging star when leaving local club Atletico Nacional for England three years ago, but has since failed to live up to his €5 million transfer fee. Moreno has in fact never played for City, instead enduring several spells on loan with La Coruna, Girona (both Spain), Brazil’s Flamengo and most recently Santos Laguna in Mexico during which he has scored a total of two goals in 53 league matches. It is hoped that he can finally live up to his early promise in the Algarve, perhaps under the tutelage of fellow Colombian Jackson Martinez who looks set to sign a new two-year contract.
By SKIP BANDELE