Guest author Chris Johnson is back with his latest post. Chris can be found on Twitter here @randomfilming. You can also check out more about the film that Chris has just finished, by following this link http://www.daydream-believers.co.uk/
Brazilian football is very much a marathon not a sprint. In this catch up we will venture from our first competitive game through to the commencement of the Serie C campaign.
Helps if you know what’s coming…
When I set out on this journey I didn’t profess to know the league structures of Brazilian football but I thought I had done enough research to get me through the early stages.
It turns out I didn’t know about an entire competition.
I knew we competed in ‘The Pernambuco State Championship’ as every State has their own league but little did I know that there is also ‘The North East Regional Championships’. Both of these start and finish before ‘The National Division 3’ campaign even gets underway.
I’ll split each competition into their own section.
The North East Regional Championship
Two groups of eight where the top four move on into a quarter-final knock out scenario, you play each side only the one time.
The sides involved come from all over the North East region of Brazil and range from the top flight down to semi-professional levels.
A faltering start against Serie B side Regatas was quickly put to bed as we began to get points on the board.
As the group came to an end we had managed to secure a spot in the play-offs and the only defeats suffered were against higher league opposition.
The draw could have been better and would see us travel to Regatas, the side who beat us 2–0 on the opening day.
In a game that could have gone either way we pinched a 1–0 victory. Our biggest result to date with Gabriel getting the only goal of the game. The Semi-final would see us face our already familiar rival, Santa Cruz.
The Recife based team are one of our fiercest opponents and will feature throughout the season one update in all three competitions.
In front of a sold out Aflitos Stadium we suffered the most painful of defeats, crashing out 4–5 on penalties. The game ended 0–0 and we were out.
The Pernambuco State Championships
Our first game of the campaign would see us lock horns with Sport Clube do Recife. The ‘O Leao do Norte’ (Lion of The North) are by far the biggest club for miles around. Sitting in Serie A and with continental football in their locker they really are the club to catch.
We gave as good as we could but in the end we are a long way behind our local overlords. Both strikes coming from poorly defended corners didn’t help but what hurt even more was the crowd and out of a sellout 19,800, over two-thirds were fans of our visitors.
This is something I want us to change and quickly. Being outnumbered on your own patch is pretty embarrassing.
Much like our ‘North East Regional Competition’ the early defeat didn’t hold us back and we followed it up with some impressive results even if the performances weren’t completely up to scratch.
As the league stage concluded we had managed to finish runners up to Recife with an impressive 22 points from the 9 games. It wasn’t in anyway a cake walk and in a lot of the victories we didn’t play particularly well but that’s football.
Finishing in the top eight would lead us into the knock out stages.
The quarter-final draw was kind to us and just seven days after putting nine past Vitoria in the league we beat them 3–0 to progress to the semi finals and who would be waiting or us but our old rivals, Santa Cruz.
Sixteen years old Lucas proved to be the hero. The young striker had been used sporadically through both competitions but came up big when it mattered. The crowds were coming back and we were into our first State Final, surely it would be against the Competitions big dogs, Sport Recife. . . .
No. The Serie A side slumped to a second leg defeat meaning we would go head to head with Salgueiro for the title of ‘Pernambuco Champion’.
The tie was split into two legs and after a close fought 1–1 draw in the first leg we knew we had a real chance in the home tie.
Again I thought we held the edge over our opponents but just after half time a goal against the run of play gave Salgueiro the higher ground.
We pressed on and eventually the on loan midfielder Jhonnatan coolly placed the ball home from the edge of the box. The game became next goal winner.
When it finally came, It was late and from an unusual source as recently acquired Erivelton nodded home from our 13th corner of the game.
Champions. But Champions of what?
It’s not the largest tournament in the world and granted we avoided Sport Recife but Nautico haven’t held this title since 2004. To deliver it so early is a big boost for the club and myself.
Finances/ They looked perilous on day one where as now thanks to competition prize money and increased gates we are looking very healthy. It has given me some scope to spend a little bit I’m still cautious of landing the club in financial trouble given I don’t really know what could be around the corner. What worries me slightly is the board constantly putting money in to deal ‘financial problems’, but when I look we have gone from £200k to £2,000,000 in just five months.
Transfers/ I have definitely been far more active than I originally planned to be. As the two tournaments progressed and the opposition got stronger I did begin to realise that we were lacking in a few positions, mainly at centre half.
Marcondres arrived for just £13,000 which for a somewhat experienced centre half didn’t seem like a bad deal. He was dropping down a level to join us in Recife so I had no worries about his ability to compete.
We have also strengthened in numerous other areas in a bid to cope with the rigorous fixture congestion. This would come back to bite me a little but more about that next time as we finally start our first season in Serie C.
Film plug incoming. . .
The film I made is now available on DVD here www.daydream-believers.co.uk
Some people (Me)say it’s the greatest football film of our generation.
‘I’d highly recommend it to all football fans.’ — Cleon 2018
‘thoroughly enjoyed it’ — Dan Gear 2018