It was a perfect opening to the group phase of the 2020 Copa Libertadores for Jorge Jesus and Jesualdo Ferreira, with both veteran coaches making winning starts away from home.
Jesus and Flamengo began the defence of their South American crown with a 2-1 victory over Colombians Junior in Barranquilla, while Jesualdo’s Santos came away from Argentina with an impressive 2-1 win over Defensa y Jusitcia.
Speaking after watching his side win in Colombia, Flamengo coach Jesus said: “Junior is a good team, with a strong crowd. It is not easy to win here. We are delighted. It is very important to start like this. It is not easy to win in Barranquilla. It was a well-played game, both by Junior and by Flamengo, who were more effective.”
The 66-year-old former Braga, Benfica and Sporting coach later spoke about his own future, with a contract extension in Rio de Janeiro unsigned but possibly imminent. Jesus admitted that when he does leave Brazil, a return to Portugal now feels the most likely next step.
“It would mean nothing to return to Europe if the environment is not a match with Brazil,” he said. “I am convinced that when I leave Brazil I will return to Portugal.
“My dreams will not come true”
“In football we can never say, but my dream jobs at two or three teams will not come true. To leave one of the biggest clubs in the world I can only return to Portugal. Even if I become a world champion or win the Libertadores again, that dream of two teams will not come true. Everyone knows: Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“I don't even want to start disturbing any work that is being done in Portugal. But I have the right to say that when I leave Brazil I want to return to Portugal. Now, that doesn't mean it will happen.”
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Jesualdo changes inspire Santos
For Jesualdo Ferreira, a much-needed positive result helps to ease some early pressure on the former Porto coach as he settles into life in Brazil. Jesualdo’s position at Santos has already been questioned after some less than impressive results and performances, but a goalless draw against rivals Palmeiras at the weekend was followed by a strong comeback in Argentina.
The 2-1 victory over Defensa y Justicia, which saw Santos come from a half-time deficit to score twice in the second period through substitutes Jobson and Kaio Jorge, clearly pleased the 73-year-old. “I am quite happy: I make two substitutions and it was the players who scored the goals.
“It was a deserved victory for the way we worked and for the way the players believed that it was possible to turn the result. In the second half we made a change to the position of a forward player, we placed him among the central players to open up their defence.
“It was a good game of football, with an excellent atmosphere and fair play.”
By Sean Gillen