Portuguese bosses: Rui Vitória, Paulo Bento suffer exits with Egypt, UAE

Sunday was a tough day for Portuguese bosses at international level, with both Rui Vitória and Paulo Bento suffering penalty shootout heartbreak in the African Cup of Nations and the Asian Cup respectively.

Both sides were eliminated at the last-16 knockout phase following 1-1 draws, as first Bento’s United Arab Emirates lost to Tajikistan 5-3 on spot kicks in Qatar, before Vitória and Egypt were upset by DR Congo 8-7 in an enthralling shootout in Cote d’Ivoire.

Bento found the defeat in Al Rayyan tough to take, with his UAE side having more possession (66%), more corners and more attempts on goal against Tajikistan in the Asian Cup. However, Tajikistan created plenty of dangerous opportunities and UAE looked set to be heading out in normal time by a 1-0 deficit until Khalifa Al Hammadi’s 95th-minute equaliser.

UAE succumbed 5-3 on penalties and Bento was devastated by the outcome. “The game was difficult, and the defeat was painful, but I think we needed to have been more clinical,” he told reporters. "Firstly, I would like to congratulate the opposing team. 

“The scoreline in the first half wasn't fair, after we had a good performance and controlled possession a lot. We didn't play well in the second half and in the end, we lost on penalties. The outcome was not fair."

UAE were not heralded a favourite for the tournament, but defeat to a side considered even more of an outsider will be damaging for Bento, who took the role after a long stint in charge of South Korea. However, Egypt’s loss to DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations will be received as more of a surprise, albeit the Pharaohs lost key man Mohamed Salah to injury early on in the tournament.

Vitória’s Egypt were in most pundit’s half dozen of likely winners, while DR Congo were priced by bookies in the region of 35/1 before the tournament. The defeat on Sunday is a shock for the North Africans, who reached the final two years ago under fellow Portuguese boss Carlos Queiroz, where they were beaten on penalties by Senegal.

“This is not the time for hasty decisions; we will think before any decision,” Vitória said when asked about his future. “This is not the end; we did not expect the defeat. Bad luck was the reason for Egypt’s loss against the DR of Congo.

“The players were very good, and this is football – it has both happy and sad times. We prepared this team for the Africa Cup of Nations, but there are times when you put in all your effort and the result is not as expected. We need to look at our future goals.”

Vitoria under fire

Meanwhile, former Egypt defender Wael Gomaa was heavily critical of Vitória for the team’s exit. “Since the beginning of the tournament, I have said that we have a very good team,” said the 114-cap stopper. “The current team’s average age and capabilities qualify us to win the title. All the positions have good players.

“We suffered from mishandling by Rui Vitória, who is responsible for the players. He brought out the worst in them and did not help them to perform well.

“Unfortunately, it’s the worst football I have seen from the Egyptian national team in my life. How could you qualify with four draws? We couldn’t win any match. His changes were pointless, player after player, there was no creativity in dealing with the game.

“Our path to the final was the easiest. If we had won, we would have faced Guinea. But we hired a coach to teach him about Africa. We brought in a coach to teach him how to deal with African football.”

In better news, José Peseiro’s Nigeria did book their place in the AFCON quarter finals thanks to a 2-0 win over Cameroon on Saturday. The Super Eagles will face Angola on Friday in Abidjan.

By @SeanGillen9