Sporting Clube de Portugal have decided the futures of two key men while a question mark remains against Ricardo Sá Pinto's participation next season.
Coach Paulo Bento is rewarded for guiding Sporting to second place in the Liga and qualification for the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage. The former Portuguese international has signed a two-year contract to continue the work he started midway through the season when he replaced José Peseiro at the helm. Formerly a midfielder with Sporting, SL Benfica and Real Oviedo, among others, he had been employed in the club's youth department before taking charge.
Also prolonging his stay with the Lisbon outfit is right-back Abel, who has been handed a three-year deal after impressing during a six-month loan spell from SC Braga. The 27-year-old, whose previous sides include FC Penafiel and Vitória SC, said: "It is an honour to represent this club."
Shrouded in doubt
However, the future of Sá Pinto remains a mystery. The 33-year-old centre-forward and club talisman had announced yesterday that he was reneging on a decision to retire this summer, yet that statement was contradicted today by Sporting president Filipe Soares Franco: "Sá Pinto will not be renewing his contract. He is a Sporting icon and the doors of the club are always open to him, but not those of the first team."
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