Fernandes: "CD Santa Clara have more quality than their position indicates"
The assistant coach takes over on Matchday 17 in the absence of Rúben Amorim
Opening 2022 and closing the first half of the Liga Portugal season, Sporting Clube de Portugal take on CD Santa Clara this Friday on Matchday 17. The team remain unbeaten, and are joint leaders with 44 points.
With coach Rúben Amorim isolating, his assistant, Carlos Fernandes, took the press conference in the Auditório Artur Agostinho at the Estádio José Alvalade.
He began by analysing the opposition, warning that "they have more quality than their league position indicates".
"Let's remember that, at the beginning of the year, they only just missed out on European qualification and eliminated FC Porto from the Taça da Liga, so it shows that they have that ability", he stressed, adding that "they are a team with very specific characteristics: A goalkeeper who plays very well with his feet, a squad with solutions and very fast players up front and capable of hitting you on the break".
Fernandes singled out Lincoln, Anderson, Morita and Rui Costa among the top players for the Azorean side.
CD Santa Clara are going through an unpredictable period of the season, occupying 15th place and with a third incumbent in the dugout in the form of interim coach Tiago Sousa. Nevertheless, Fernandes wants to keep the team alert, saying that "We know that CD Santa Clara have the ability to beat any team in Portugal, they've already shown it and we have to be prepared".
Asked about the absence of Rúben Amorim in the Azores, the assistant coach talked about the "positive energy" that the head coach transmits to the group, but assured that the preparation for the match had not been affected.
"The most important thing is that he and his family are doing well. As soon as he tested positive for COVID-19, one of the first things he told me was that I could come to the press conference to practice, so his spirit is always very upbeat".
"With new technologies, even today he was watching training live and was able to help us to make some corrections in real time. During the game, he is a coach who gives the players space, so the only difference we will feel is we won't have his energy in the moment. In terms of tactical, technical and physical preparation, we are just the same as before".
"I'm lucky to work with someone who gives this opportunity to both players and coaches. Our coaching staff is a mix of people like Mister Vital, with decades of experience in the Primeira Liga, and me and Adélio Cândido, who have been here for two or three years", he said.
Fernandes guaranteed that Zouhair Feddal will be in the squad, whilst Pedro Porro has returned to training but is not at 100% and Bruno Tabata has completed his period of isolation.
Finally, when asked about Pedro Gonçalves' dry spell in front of goal, the assistant coach praised him for other aspects of his game.
"This is probably the period in which Pote provided the most assists. It is important that people look at the player as a whole, because if he hadn't scored so many goals a year ago, no one would be looking at that now. He continues to do what the coach asks of him and what matters is that he plays his game without worrying about whether he scores or not".