Carlos Queiroz is enjoying a strong start to life as manager of Colombia, with two wins and no goals conceded from their opening two games seeing his side into the quarter finals of the Copa America with one group match to spare.
Meanwhile in the world of Portuguese bosses abroad, Jorge Jesus took his first training session at Brazilian giants Flamengo on Thursday and gave an impassioned speech at his press conference. In Asia, José Morais and Vítor Pereira are battling it out in the Champions League, while José Mourinho has hinted he may take up a job in international management.
For Queiroz and Colombia, a 100% record after two matches of the Copa America and safe passage through to the knockout stage after their 2-0 opening day win over Argentina was followed by a 1-0 victory against Qatar. All three of Colombia’s goals have come in the last twenty minutes, with Duvan Zapata’s winner against Qatar arriving on 86 minutes.
Queiroz was lavished with widespread praise by the Colombian press following the win over Argentina, receiving compliments for his tactical plan and the team’s ability to shut down Lionel Messi. Newspaper El Tiempo summed up the reaction, saying Colombia were “co-ordinated, functional, as if the most efficient watches weren't Swiss but Portuguese,” in tribute to Queiroz.
A subsequent draw between Argentina and Group B’s other participants, Japan, means Colombia have already won their group, and Queiroz has hinted he will use the opportunity to rotate his squad. “We suffered [against Qatar] because we couldn’t score earlier,” he said. “Qatar did not surprise me because it is a well organised team who play compact. The Colombia players had to work hard for this so they deserve credit.
“We have had two very difficult games and we have a few players who have fatigue or physical problems. The lack of early goals contributes to the tiredness. I intend to play some other players [against Japan] because everyone is here at the Copa America on merit.”
Jesus at Flamengo to “win, win, win”
Jorge Jesus took charge of training at Flamengo for the first time on Thursday, three weeks before his first game at the helm of the Brazilian club. Jesus also spoke to the media, giving an impassioned speech which reflected the encouraging atmosphere being generated by the Portuguese at the Rio de Janeiro outfit.
“It was very impressive, very positive,” said Flamengo midfielder Everton Ribeiro. “The coach says he has come here to win titles and implement a winning mentality. It’s a new beginning and we all have to show our best. Most important is not the player but Flamengo and this mentality will help us a lot. He’s very teacher-like. He explains everything we have to do, and how and why.”
Jesus will be happy to hear one of his key players already repeating his assertions, having stated during his press conference that he expects everyone to put the club first. Jesus spoke to the media on the day of his first training session, addressing journalists with members of his staff stood behind him.
“The most important thing here is Flamengo,” said the former Benfica and Sporting boss. “It’s not the coach, nor the player. It’s Flamengo! So we need to work on our targets as a team. You cannot speak in any other way at this club other than to win, win, win!”
Jesus’ first match in charge of Flamengo will take place on July 10th with a difficult trip to Atletico Paranaense – one of Brazil’s strongest home sides – in the Copa do Brasil.
Morais and Pereira all-square after ACL opener
Portuguese bosses Vítor Pereira and José Morais met in one of the glamour ties of the Asian Champions League last-16 round on Wednesday, with Pereira’s Shanghai SIPG of China hosting South Korean champions Jeonbuk Motors, led by long-time José Mourinho associate Morais.
The first leg ended 1-1 in Shanghai, leaving the tie nicely balanced ahead of the return clash next week. Morais’ visitors got off to the perfect start with a goal inside the first minute through Moon Seon-Mi, with Wang Shenchao levelling for the hosts a little over five minutes before the break.
The tie is one of two Portuguese managerial showdowns in the first knockout round, with Jesualdo Ferreira’s Al-Sadd set to meet Rui Faria’s Al-Duhail in an all-Qatari tie in August. Rui Vitória will also be vying for a place in the quarter finals in August when his Saudi Arabian champions Al Nassr are set to play UAE outfit Al Wahda.
International football now more likely for Mourinho
Still watching from the sidelines is Portugal’s most successful managerial export, with José Mourinho yet to return to football more than six months after leaving Manchester United. The 56-year-old has scarcely been seriously linked with any of the vacancies in club football this summer, despite various jobs opening up in Italy and France in particular.
Mourinho had previously insisted that he was prioritising a return to club football over taking charge of a national side. However, more recent declarations from the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid boss suggest Mourinho may now be willing to switch his ambitions to international football.
“I want to try new competitions,” he said. “I think of a World Cup or a European Championships. I have wanted to try something like that for a long time. At the moment I see myself more in a national team than a club side. Is Portugal the ideal team? Not necessarily.”
By Sean Gillen