Aveiro AMA made it to the UEFA Regions' Cup finals after overcoming opposition from Estonia, Sweden and the Netherlands in Group 2.
Aveiro AMA have made it to the UEFA Regions' Cup finals after overcoming opposition from Estonia, Sweden and the Netherlands in the Group 2 mini-tournament.
The Portuguese side won all three of their games in the Netherlands to become the first side to win one of the intermediary round mini-tournaments away from home. "We came to Holland to win, but the most important thing was to take part and play fair," said Aveiro coach José Sa, a sports teacher by trade. "Football is a simple game - why complicate it?"
Aveiro took the competition by the throat on the opening matchday, beating hosts District West AMA 2-1 in Noordwijk. Despite good pressure from the Dutch side, Jonathan Ribeiro opened the scoring for Aveiro from the penalty spot after 16 minutes, but they were pegged back by a Samer Batista own goal. However, Julio Pinho struck deep into second-half added time to win the game.
Sa admitted that the quality of the Dutch side had forced him to change his tactics whole he had been intimidated by the sheer size of District West striker Donovan Mijnals. "As soon as I saw the height of their players in our hotel I knew it would be difficult," said the coach. "Especially the No9 [Mijnals]."
With East Estonia AMA drawing 0-0 with Värmland AMA in heavy rain in the other opening-day fixture, Aveiro knew that a win against the Swedes on Matchday 2 would leave them in a commanding position. Pinho duly opened the scoring for them after 36 minutes before Nelson Rato rounded off a 2-0 victory with a goal after 64 minutes.
Michael Thé scored the only goal of the game for District West against stubborn East Estonia in the other Matchday 2 fixture in Uithoorn, meaning that Aveiro were in effect through after only two matches as they had a superior head-to-head record over the Dutch side, but they confirmed their position in their final match, coming from behind to win 3-1 against East Estonia.
Lauri Ellram put the Estonian side ahead after just ten minutes, but Aveiro went in at the interval level as José Bastos scored after 31 minutes. Bastos put his side ahead 13 minutes into the second period before Andre Cardoso rounded off the scoring for Sa's men.