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Sporting Clube de Portugal

Published: Wednesday 1 February 2012, 21.00CET
Sporting Clube de Portugal have been a major force in Portuguese futsal for two decades and staged the first European finals in 2002.
Sporting Clube de Portugal
Sporting celebrate their dramatic 5-5 draw against Iberia to qualify for the finals ©Sporting Clube de Portugal
Published: Wednesday 1 February 2012, 21.00CET

Sporting Clube de Portugal

Sporting Clube de Portugal have been a major force in Portuguese futsal for two decades and staged the first European finals in 2002.

Formed: 1906 (club), 1989 (futsal team)
Nickname: Leões (Lions)
UEFA Futsal Cup best performance: runners-up 2011

Domestic honours (most recent)
• League title: 10 (2011)
• Portuguese Cup: 3 (2011)

Main round: bye
Elite round: City'US Târgu Mureş 5-3, Győri ETO FC 3-1, Iberia Star Tbilisi 5-5 (Group C winners)

Hosts of the inaugural and unique eight-team UEFA Futsal Cup final tournament in 2001/02, reaching the semis, Sporting Clube de Portugal fell just short in their bid to succeed Lisbon rivals SL Benfica as European champions a year ago but have the chance to go one better now. Last season's Portuguese treble winners made it all the way to their first European final, knocking out hosts Kairat Almaty but then losing 5-2 to ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5.

Since then Cardinal and Divanei may have departed but Sporting still have a strong mix of Portuguese internationals like goalkeeper João Benedito, Paulinho, João Matos, Pedro Cary and Leitão, plus experienced Brazilians including Marcelinho, Alex, Déo and Caio Japa. Their mettle was shown in the elite round when, having trailed Iberia Star Tbilisi 3-0 at half-time, they delighted the home fans by rallying to get the point they needed with a 5-5 draw courtesy of Leitão's 39th-minute equaliser, and coach Orlando Duarte explained: "If people knew the problems we had in the build-up to this game, including injuries, then they would know just how difficult it was. Leitão had a back problem, Buiu had a knee problem and Alex had only just started training again. We really showed our character and we gave everything to get into the next round."

Key players
João Benedito (goalkeeper), Alex, Pedro Cary, Leitão, João Matos

Coach: Orlando Duarte

Date of birth: 5 April 1957
Coaching career: Atlético Clube de Portugal, Sporting Clube de Portugal, Portugal

Duarte had a major part in Sporting's rise as a futsal force and returned in summer 2010 to the club where he made his name. His coaching career dates back to the 1987/88 campaign when he arrived at Lisbon's Atlético Clube de Portugal, winning two regional titles. Sporting came knocking on his door in 1991 and Duarte went on to collect five Portuguese championships in nine seasons, with his growing reputation also earning him a role as FIFA instructor.

A Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) coach since 1994, he quit Sporting six years later to lead the national team and in his competitive bow at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Guatemala guided Portugal to their first semi-final – eventually seeing off European champions Russia 4-2 for third place. He then steered Portugal to two more World Cups and four UEFA European Futsal Championships, progressing to the last four on home territory in 2007 and later making the 2010 final, losing to Spain in Debrecen in his farewell act. Returning to Sporting, in his first season back they completed the domestic treble and reached the UEFA Futsal Cup final.

Last updated: 20/03/12 14.03CET

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