Date:Tuesday September 16 2008
All of us at Vital Pompey and Pompey fans throughout the world would like to offer a special welcome to all the players, officials and supporters of Vitoria S.C. from Guimaraes in Portugal.
18th September 2008 marks a very special day in the history of Portsmouth Football Club and Vitoria are invited to the party. Portsmouth FC was founded 110 years ago and has a history littered with honours including the English Championship twice and the world's most famous Cup competition the FA Cup also on two occasions. Despite that history this will be our first adventure into European competitive football, something die hard Pompey fans thought they would never see.
Vitoria SC were formed in 1922 and play their home games at the Estadio D Afonso Henriques and well appointed stadium that holds a little over 30,000. The stadium was upgraded for the 2004 European Championships. The club play in white shirts and black shorts and are nicknamed the White Angels.
Guimaraes is a particularly beautiful but small city situated north of Porto in northern Portugal. It has been chosen by the Portuguese government as the European Capital of Culture in 2012 and the centre of the city is a World heritage Site.
As a Sporting Club and common throughout Europe the club has teams that play Volleyball, Basketball as well as Football.
The club are famous for very fervent supporters who travel throughout Portugal in large numbers. Their local rivals are fellow BwinLiga side Braga but it is the big three (Porto, Sporting and Benfica) that really counts and last season Vitoria finished above Benfica.
Vitoria have been in the top division of Portuguese football for all but one of the last fifty years and that was two seasons ago. However last season after finishing in the third place on their return to the top flight at the first attempt they qualified for the Champions League qualifying stages. Here they were unfortunately beaten 3-2 on aggregate by FC Basel in somewhat controversial circumstances having a goal wrongly disallowed which would have seen them through on away goals. Vitoria have to date won no major honours.
They squad is made up almost entirely of Portuguese, Brazilian and French players but they are struggling with injuries and suspensions which have ruled out players such as Luis Filipe, Flavio, Douglas, Marquinho and Nino Assis.
Reading the Vitoria fans sites websites they are determined to eradicate the memory of Basel which they claim cost the club €5Million. They know Pompey will be a hard nut to crack and expect to defend at Fratton in the hope of sealing their passage to the group stage. They are worried about the 'headache' (their word not mine) of having so many injuries
The Vitoria official site has plenty on the game and refers frequently to Pedro Mendes their own prodigy. Harry tells that they know all about Vitoria because Pedro was always referring to them as a top team. In fact after the Cup Final, while Pompey's foreign legions were celebrating wrapped in their home nation's flags, Mendes had a Vitoria flag around his neck proudly displaying the colours of his home club. What a coincidence that they should be our first opponents when 80 teams entered the hat!!
The main problem with the official site is they have a picture of Everton fans instead of a Pompey crowd - both play in blue I suppose.
They had no league game last weekend, they play only 31 league games in their season, so their coach Manuel Cajuda was at Fratton Park watching Pompey; no doubt he was impressed.
In the pre-season Vitoria met Middlesbrough in the Algarve Cup played in Southern Portugal which also included Celtic and Cardiff City. Vitoria beat Boro with a very late goal. A free-kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time by Dinis, which curled beyond goalkeeper Ross Turnbull's despairing dive, saw the Portuguese side claim the win. Cardiff won the trophy beating Celtic 1-0 in the final.
There was a Toast special on Vitoria`s European history which you can read here.
The Vitoria squad, with their squad numbers is -
1 Nilson , Goalkeeper; 3 Luciano Amaral, Defender; 4 Sereno, Defender; 7 Carlitos, Striker; 8 Paulo Henrique, Midfield; 9 Roberto, Striker; 10 Nuno Assis, Midfield; 11 Wenio, Midfield; 15 Gregory, Defender; 16 Danilo, Defender; 17 Fajardo, Midfield; 18 Moreno, Defender; 20 Desmarets, Midfield; 21 Luis Filipe, Midfield; 25 Andrézinho, Defender; 26 Flávio, Midfield; 27 Nuno Santos, Goalkeeper; 28 Tiago Ronaldo, Midfield; 29 Momha, Defender; 39 Marquinho, Striker; 52 Serginho, Goalkeeper; 80 João Alves, Midfield; 88 Jean Coral, Striker; 89 Lionn, Defender; 99 Douglas, Striker.
Vitoria will train under the Fratton lights on Wednesday night before the big game on Thursday.
The UEFA delegate at the game is Odd Flattum from Norway but at the time of writing I have been unable to locate details of the match officials.
Date:Tuesday September 16 2008
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