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Sporting exiles look for joy with Videoton

Marco Caneira and Paulo Sousa are hoping former team-mate Ricardo Sá Pinto "will make mistakes" as they take on their old club Sporting Clube de Portugal with Videoton FC.

Marco Caneira in action for Videoton
Marco Caneira in action for Videoton ©Getty Images

Two notable Sporting Clube de Portugal alumni will look to get one over on their old club as Videoton FC face the Lisbon Lions in UEFA Europa League Group G.

Coach Paulo Sousa is leading a Portuguese-accented revolution at the Hungarian team, with defender Marco Caneira one of his trusted foot soldiers in Szekesfehervar. The latter came through the Sporting academy, ended his third spell as a player with the club as recently as 2011, and is understandably excited about meeting up with old friends on Thursday.

"It will be special for me, because it is the club where I received my education both as a man and as a professional footballer," he told UEFA.com. Having joined Sporting as a 17-year-old, the 25-times capped international – now 33 – is still attached to his old side. "I miss the big games at the Alvalade. I will never forget the goal I scored against Internazionale Milano in the Champions League, when we won 1-0 [a stunning volley in the 2006/07 group stage].

"Things are going quite well here, though," he added. "I have got to know a new culture, a new country, and the club is coming on fast. It has been a nice experience, both personally and professionally."

Caneira also knows Sporting coach Ricardo Sá Pinto, and while his ex team-mate is not having an easy time – Sporting have won just one of their opening five Liga fixtures – the Videoton No4 expects an improvement from the 39-year-old's charges. "He has the same will to win and ambition that he showed as a player," said Caneira.

Sousa spent a solitary campaign as a player with Sporting, in 1993/94, later winning the UEFA Champions League with Juventus (1996) and Borussia Dortmund (1997). After launching his coaching career in England with spells at Queens Park Rangers FC, Swansea City AFC and Leicester City FC, he moved to Videoton in May 2011 and has a long-term project to overhaul the club.

"It has been very positive so far," the 42-year-old told UEFA.com. "We want to build a strong club culture, implement more professional behaviour and get a new footballing philosophy." A second-place finish last term behind Debreceni VSC suggests his Videoton side are on the right track, though the 3-0 matchday one defeat at KRC Genk was less encouraging.

Sporting also failed to score on 20 September, drawing 0-0 at home to FC Basel 1893, and visit Hungary without Elías, Diego Capel and Andre Carrillo – rested for weekend league action – as well as defender Bruno Pereirinha (knee). However, defender Khalid Boulahrouz is available after a thigh injury.

"We have to be at our best," said Sousa. "Sporting have a strong squad, full of internationals. We have to play a very organised and disciplined game." He added of Sá Pinto: "I wish him all the best. I am sure he will be successful. He is methodical, precise and wants to control every detail – and he is ambitious. But hopefully he will make mistakes against us."

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