SC Braga have a habit of finding their best form at the right moment and as they build up for next month's UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie with R. Standard de Liège they are creeping up the Portuguese Liga table in style.
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SC Braga have a habit of finding their best form at the right moment and as they build up for next month's UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie with R. Standard de Liège they are creeping up the Portuguese Liga table.
Braga made a shaky start to the domestic season but Monday's 2-0 home win against coach Jorge Jesus's previous club CF Os Belenenses stretched their unbeaten league run to ten games and moved them up to fifth, into the European qualification positions for the first time in 2008/09 and only four points behind leaders FC Porto. The 54-year-old Jorge Jesus, appointed last summer, sees this as no time for Braga to rest on their laurels with a trip to second-placed SL Benfica looming on Sunday.
Long way to go
"We now have 23 points in the league and we have climbed to fifth," he said. "Braga occupy an important position at the moment but that doesn't mean anything. The final classification is never decided in the first half of the season. Of course it's important to be among the front-runners but the fact we are fifth won't change the way we approach each game. We'll continue to work hard every day in order to achieve our goals."
Braga, who are on their fourth consecutive UEFA Cup campaign but have never finished in the Liga top three, could certainly continue to move up according to Brazilian midfielder Mossoró, star man against Belenenses and one of a large number of close-season arrivals. "Braga are very close to getting into the top four and we will do our best to keep winning," the 25-year-old former SC Internacional and CS Marítimo player said. "We saw 15 or 16 new players arrive at the club [in the summer], each one with their own characteristics, so it's only natural that the team is only now starting to become more focused and strong."
The fact that Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz was in the stands to watch the match against Belenenses is as good a measure as any of just how highly some Braga's players are regarded, with the likes of goalkeeper Eduardo and César Peixoto involved in the recent friendly defeat against Brazil. And with the striking partnership of Albert Meyong and Renteria working well, the sky seems to be the limit. "I will score many more goals in 2009," Renteria said. "I just hope we can maintain this level of confidence."