Posts Tagged ‘Obidos’

Bruno-Gama-celebra-gol-Deportivo

Deportivo winger Bruno Gama was touted as the next great player in Portuguese football when he represented his country at the 2007 U20 World Cup in Canada. At that point, a selection to the Seleção seemed inevitable.

At 25 years of old, Gama will realize that dream this week against Holland after being called up by Portugal manager Paulo Bento as an injury replacement for Wolfsburg’s Vieirinha.

“I am very happy, I did not expect this at all. I was enjoying my day of rest (When he received the message), and it happened when I was in Portugal. It is a dream come true,” he said in a news conference on Monday in Óbidos.

“It gave me a lot of hope. I need to continue to work hard and help the squad. There are excellent players at my position. I know that there are stronger options, but I have confidence that I will continue to be selected,” he added.

Like Vieirinha, Gama was a talented young player and an automatic choice for Portugal’s junior squads who took a little longer than expected to reach the heights of the Seleção.

A product of Sporting Braga’s youth academy, Gama was signed by FC Porto in 2004 for €750,000. A large sum for a young player.

For the next few seasons he played with Porto’s B squad, before loan spells at Braga and Vitória Setúbal. Gama would only play one official league match for Porto until he was released in 2009 at the age of 21.

During this time, he continued to be a prominent player on Portugal’s junior squads gaining 78 caps and scoring 25 goals.

Gama would sign with Rio Ave in 2009, playing two seasons and was almost completely written off by pundits everywhere.

In 2011, he would move to Spain, signing a deal with Galician club Deportivo La Coruña. It did not seem like an important step in his career at the time, especially since the club was currently languishing in Spain’s Segunda División.

In his first season, Gama helped the club gain promotion to the top-level of Spanish football. The following year, with fellow Portuguese international Pizzi playing on the opposite wing, Gama had a strong season scoring 6 goals and pitching in another 5 assists in 38 La Liga matches.

His production was not enough to prevent Deportivo from being relegated last season. However, Gama is unlikely to remain with the club for long. Both Sporting Lisbon and Sevilla have been rumoured to be interested in signing him before the end of the transfer period on August 31st.

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FUTEBOL - antunes no treino da Seleccao AA de Futebol Na Praia D¿el

Left-back Vitorino Antunes joined the Selecção at their training facility in Óbidos on Tuesday. Paulo Bento had originally left him out of the Portugal squad for two upcoming World Cup 2014 qualifying matches announced last week.

Antunes’ call-up was considered by some to be long overdue. Antunes has been in terrific form this season with Portuguese club Paços de Ferreira and on-loan with La Liga club Málaga. He was a late selection to the squad, and his place will not impact any other player’s position in the squad.

The 25-year-old already has 3 caps to his credit, having first been called up in 2007. But after being signed to Italian giants AS Roma, he did not received much playing time and his career began to stagnate.

Upon arriving with his teammates in Óbidos, Antunes talked about what representing Portugal means to him. “I have worked very hard to be called up. The news was very welcome at home by my family and especially by me. I am always very proud to represent Portugal,” he said.

He was also asked whether he thought he deserved to be selected earlier. “Should I been called sooner? I cannot make that sort of evaluation. I just need to do my work, give my all with my club and in the opportunities that arise. The manager thought it was the right time to call me,” Antunes added.

It has certainly been a long journey for him. Antunes began playing for his local club Freamunde in the third level of Portuguese football. In 2006, he was signed by near-by Paços de Ferreira where he began to make a name for himself at the professional level.

While at Paços, Antunes helped the club finish 6th in 2006-07 and qualify for European competition for the first time in the provincial club’s history. He played in the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup and received his first call-up to the Portuguese national team that year.

It looked like Antunes would be Portugal’s left-back of the future. Many clubs took notice, but Antunes was signed by Serie A giants AS Roma on loan for the 2007-08 campaign. Despite playing sparingly that year under then manager Luciano Spalletti, the club exercised an option to sign him to a permanent deal.

The following season, he was sent on loan to newly promoted Lecce. This was followed by another loan to Portuguese-side Leixões, followed by Livorno and Panionios in Greece.

In June 2012, Antunes was finally released by Roma. His old club Paços de Ferreira eventually re-signed him to a new three-year deal. Antunes quickly took advantage of his new opportunity, earning a starting position at left-back with Paulo Fonseca’s club.

Antunes was one of the best performers in the first half of the Portuguese Championship, starting 14 matches and scoring 3 goals for the surprising Paços de Ferreira side who currently stand in fourth position.

His performances earned him a loan deal to La Liga’s Málaga who were looking to replace Nacho Monreal, now at Arsenal. Antunes has been manager Manuel Pellegrini’s first-choice left-back from the start. Most recently, Antunes helped the Spanish side eliminate Porto in the Champions League.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Steve Gardner

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Steve Gardner

Benfica now have a four point lead over rivals FC Porto in the domestic title race after an impressive 4-0 defeat of Vitória Guimarães on Sunday.

Oscar Cardozo scored on a penalty just before half-time to put the capital club ahead. Ezequiel Garay, Edoardo Salvio and Rodrigo would score in the second half to earn Jorge Jesus’ side a decisive victory.

After the match, Jesus spoke about how Benfica’s slump in March last year would eventually cost them the Championship and stressed that his club need to remain focussed.

“A four point advantage does not change things, we need to remain responsible and humble. We have not won anything, we are just in first place. We still have seven matches left to play, if we want to end the season in first, we need to win more matches,” Jesus told journalists.

Benfica were able to take advantage after FC Porto slumped to a 1-1 draw against Marítimo. James Rodriguez scored the only goal for the two-time defending Champions in the 33rd minute of play but Maritimo struck back a few minutes later with a goal by Hyun-Jun Suk.

In the second half, David Simão brought down defender Danilo in the box and Porto were given a chance to go ahead. Jackson Martinez took the penalty but had his attempt stopped by Martimo’s Romain Salin.

Manager Vitor Pereira spoke about the result after the match and admitted that the Portuguese league championship now depends on Benfica’s results.

“We created chances, missed a penalty and conceded a goal on a play that was under our control but Mangala slipped. I give the team credit, because they gave it their all but in the end we did not get the victory. I regret the result, it is not what we wanted,” Pereira said.

The draw was the second in three matches in the Portuguese league, allowing Benfica to take advantage. João Moutinho missed his third straight league match after re-injuring himself in his return in Porto’s 2-0 loss against Malaga on Wednesday.

Moutinho’s absence has been felt, as FC Porto have lost their place at the top of the Portuguese league to Benfica, as well as being eliminated from the Champions League with the loss to Malaga. Moutinho is currently in Óbidos with the Seleção but did not train with the team on Monday. He continues to recover from a bruised thigh. Portugal face Israel in a crucial World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Sporting Lisbon continued their revival under veteran manager Jesualdo Ferreira with an important 2-1 win against Vitória Setúbal. Vitória’s Amoreirinha scored an own goal in the 16th minute, which was followed by a penalty by Zakaria Labyad a few minutes later to give Sporting a 2-0 advantage. Makukula would score for Vitória before half-time but the Leões held on the rest of the way.

Sporting manager Jesualdo Ferreira was pleased with his club’s effort but added that they need to continue to improve. “In some phases of the match, this was Sporting’s best game, in others not so much. It could have been an easy victory if we had played well the entire match,” Ferreira said.

Sporting are currently in 10th place after 23 matches, but only four points away from the final Europa League spot for next season which currently belongs to Estoril. Ferreira said that European qualification is still a very real possibility.

“We have seven matches left, next we will face Braga and I believe we will play a good match because we are better motivated. When the team is calm, attentive and concerted, we could make things interesting and could control the match against any opponents. We have to continue to work hard in order to qualify for Europe. We have to believe in what is possible.”

Elsewhere, Sporting Braga retained third place with an impressive 3-1 defeat of Gil Vicente in Barcelos. Hugo Viana scored two and Zé Luís scored the third. Hugo Vieira scored the lone goal for Gil Vicente. It was his 5th goal in 8 matches since returning from his unsuccessful loan spell at Sporting Gijón.