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'He's Mourinho, I'm Peseiro'

Sporting Clube de Portugal coach José Peseiro insists he is not the new José Mourinho.

By Onofre Costa

A 1-0 defeat by SL Benfica at the weekend may have ruined Sporting Clube de Portugal's chances of winning the Portuguese SuperLiga, but should his side win the UEFA Cup final against PFC CSKA Moskva on Wednesday, coach José Peseiro will still be looking back on a legendary first season.

Pressure game
Having joined Sporting after spending a turbulent season as assistant to then Real Madrid CF coach Carlos Queiroz, the 45-year-old has faced his share of pressure games in the last two years. Even with home advantage at the Estádio José Alvalade on Wednesday, he is taking nothing for granted.

Home advantage
"We share our supporters' excitement but we also know very well that we'll only win this match if we play very well and have a winning mentality," he told uefa.com. "The fact that we are playing at our own stadium and that most of the supporters will be behind us will not win us this final."

Nasty reminder
The memory of the final of UEFA EURO 2004™ last summer, when Portugal surprisingly lost 1-0 against Greece on home soil, is a constant reminder to Peseiro that when the stakes are high and emotions are skidding out of control, anything can happen.

Portuguese slump
"Portugal were also favourites in last summer's final," he said. "The stadium was full of Portuguese, there was a euphoria around the squad and nobody thought it was possible to lose but Portugal lost. If anyone thinks we have this final in our pockets, they should remember that."

Tactical consistency
However, even if the pressure of the occasion is weighing upon the coach, he insists that Sporting are not going to be panicked into changing their tactics. A policy of playing possession football and committing men into attack has been the hallmark of Sporting's season so far.

Individual style
"We said from day one that it is more important to concentrate on our own style of play rather than worrying about our opponents," said Peseiro. "We would never neglect the need to understand our adversaries' strong points and weaknesses. However, what we learn will never interfere too much with our own ideas."

Europe's best
Success against CSKA would mark another mighty peak for Portuguese football and prove to the world that, 2003 UEFA Cup winners and 2004 European champions FC Porto are not the only SuperLiga side capable of competing with Europe's best.

Calm feelings
However, Peseiro is hoping Portuguese pride will not come before a fall. "We all feel a great pride, satisfaction and excitement but we don't want those feelings to unsettle us on Wednesday," he said. However, he did not deny that winning the title would be "something that would fill us with joy".

New Mourinho
It would also see Peseiro begin to match the achievements of all-conquering Porto coach José Mourinho. Peseiro - who was a year behind Mourinho in gaining his coaching qualifications - has been alleged to be cut from the same cloth as the Chelsea FC manager, but he is not convinced.

Personal stance
"He's Mourinho and I'm Peseiro," said the coach. "We were colleagues when we were training but we have nothing to do with each other. Sometimes I feel that people give too much importance to the individual and not to the methods." The proof of the power of Peseiro's methods will be clear to all on Wednesday.