South American Journeyman Recap #11

What’s up guys? How are you holding up? Here in Argentina the quarantine has just been extended for another week… and what can I say, it’s starting to “show” in my mood. But it’s as important as ever to stay home, aid those in need and help the workers who can’t stay put or work from home keep safe, as they help us survive these awful times… at least, as always, there’s FM to keep our minds distracted. It’s been a tricky season for Castolo’s Confiança, so let’s get into it…

Doing it when it counts

You might’ve noticed I’m a bit of a stats geek; it’s a knack I have for useless information. I’m also a bit of a tennis geek (#GoFed). So when, after losing but group stage matches vs. Sergipe during the Sergipano and then being matched against them in the final, I couldn’t help it but think of the Edberg v. Becker rivalry. Yeah, my brain works like that.

As closely matched as their careers were (both were #1, both won 6 GS) it didn’t show when they met; Becker leads the H2H with a 25-10 record. However, if you look closely, you can catch a strange pattern: the bigger the stage, the most likely an Edberg win. Seven out of Edberg’s ten wins came at Finals or Semis, five of those, during Grand Slams or Masters Cup matches. Matter of fact, Becker’s sole Grand Slam win comes from the 1989 Wimbledon final. I guess you now see where I’m going with this… We had to do it like Stefan, when it counted.

Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg had nearly identical careers, unless you count having Fed idolize you as a Grand Slam, which I do. How I managed to insert a photo of two of the blondest people ever known to mankind in a SouthAmericanJourneyman entry is something I’ll never understand.

The Sergipão final is played as a two-legged affair, meaning there would be a double battle for pride and supremacy at the Baptistão, as Sergipe plays in the same stadium as us. The first leg, tecnically speaking our home match, was an odd match. Leading 1-0 after 39 minutes from a beautiful outside curl Jajá free-kick, we had all but 3 of the chances created in the game, can only mean one thing… Sergipe leading striker Pilar got the match tied with an 84th minute goal and put the 2-1 at the dying moments of the match with a 92nd minute penalty. A double rebound inside the box helped us get a draw just a minute later, setting up a make-or-break “away” leg.

Only 4 days later we met again. Since, as far as I know, there is no away goals rule, the draw meant it was there for the taking for both teams. Ironically, it was a far closer match, and I say ironically cause they pulled a Becker. A 26th minute Thiago Ennes goal coming from a cross from his opposite gave us the lead and despite having a number of shots, neither team looked like adding to that result. With 15 minutes to go Moicano made it 2-0, and any suspense gained by a Thiago goal for Sergipe thanks to a funky rebound (think Wilshere goal vs WBA bouncing of Yacob) when Renan Gorne took advantage of a quick counter to put on the board the definite 3-1.

That way we complete a threepeat in the Sergipão, a feat not achieved since Sergipe themselves managed it (twice and back to back, actually) during the 90s. It’s only the second title in Castolo’s career, though, but a much enjoyed one.

Cup’s magic, league’s tragic

The inevitable truth of FM is that after a big win comes the unavoidable drop in form that makes you question all that you hold to be certain. For us that came in the shape of a terrible month of may.

It all started with an odd 2-5 loss vs Moto Club at the end of April, where everything went their way and we missed absolute sitter after absolute sitter. Ok, fair enough, you take the good with the bad. And in all fairness May started fairly well with solid victories, but then we started hemorrhaging points like never before. We ended up outside the qualification zone for the Serie C, a hard drop in results after last season scintillating form.

Slowly clawing our way back, June and July also saw us putting together another decent cup run, this time at the Copa do Nordeste. It was a big “debt” I felt, as the club was into the Semis when I first arrived at the club and I wasn’t able to repeat it last time round. A 3-0 win against ever-present put us in the 2nd spot of our group and in for a QF match-up vs. Sport Recife. It seemed an atainable goal as we had looked the better side in our previous encounter, a 0-0 during the group stage. After a hard-fought duel came the karma of this series, a penalty shoot-out. As with last time, we were up to it and left with a ticket to the semis.

Just a week later we faced probably the hardest match of the season, against Serie A side Vitória. Unlike last time, it was a tough ask from the get go; our last meeting with the side from Salvador da Bahía side was a 1-5 battering at our expense. This time however it proved a much closer match. Both sides missed a penalty and a 71st opener from Vitória was answered with an absolute screamer from the player who’s quickly becoming my favourite in this save, Jajá, just two minutes later. Once again it went to penalties but this time we could not pull the upset. Can’t say I’m not a bit dissapointed but in all it was a much better showing than last time around. Maybe 4th time’s the lucky one? We’ll have to find out next season.

Once again into the trenches

After all’s been said and done, here’s the situation…

After last season’s heartbreak, I’m looking to get that top spot to maximize the chances of promotion, particularly with dark horses and former Serie B side Criciúma in the fighting for Group B’s 3rd spot (which should our 2nd spot stand will make them our rivals). However, it’s gonna take a serious drop-off in form from ABC and with their single defeat coming at our hands, it doesn’t look likely.

While we prepare for next season, preparing some pre-contracts and renewing our current deals, a question that weights ever heavier in my mind is whether to carry on with Confiança or looking new pastures. Promotion or not, I’m not leaving before 2022, but after that, I’m feeling more and more like a new destination would be fun. Had this not been a Journeyman save, I’d be more than happy to remain at Confiança, but it is and as such I’m like a boy on a rainy day, longing for the games at the park. Both River Plate and Cruzeiro jobs became available during this season, and though I doubt I’d be in contention for either, it sure fired some what-ifs and how-abouts in my head.

For now, Confiança is our focus and with a possible promotion so close, it could not possibly be otherwise.

As always, thanks for reading!

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