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Duarte determined to earn Sporting success

After leading the national team to the EURO final, Orlando Duarte ended his ten-year reign to return to Sporting Clube de Portugal and is ambitious as they begin their UEFA Futsal Cup bid.

Orlando Duarte's last act as Portugal coach was to lead them to their first EURO final
Orlando Duarte's last act as Portugal coach was to lead them to their first EURO final ©Sportsfile

Orlando Duarte's return to Sporting Clube de Portugal's futsal side ahead of the 2010/11 season has been anything but unemotional.

The 53-year-old left the Lisbon giants in 2000 after winning five Portuguese championships in nine seasons to take over the national side. He is widely credited as the man behind Portugal's rise to elite status in the sport, beginning by masterminding a third-place finish at the 2000 FIFA Futsal World Cup and bowing out after they reached the UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 final in Hungary last January.

In the summer, Duarte decided to return to Sporting, who had just beaten UEFA Futsal Cup winners SL Benfica to the league title, and his first act was to oversee an impressive 5-2 defeat of CF Os Belenenses to lift the Portuguese Super Cup on 4 September. "Our main goal will be to win all four competitions we are involved in," Duarte said. "I'm not here to kid around. I'm here to win."

One of the driving forces behind Duarte's return to Sporting was that he had begun to miss club coaching. "I really wanted to get back to daily training and to work with people who have true passion for the sport," he said.

At the pinnacle of Sporting's potential quadruple is the UEFA Futsal Cup and their campaign begins tonight in Slovakia as they start main round Group 1 against KMF Zelezarec Skopje, with games against Slovenia's FC Kobarid and hosts Slov-Matic Bratislava to follow. Duarte is confident, especially with the addition of summer signings Pedro Cary, Leitão, Marcelinho and Paulinho.

"I'm very happy with the players I have and I think that we can aim very high this season", said Duarte, whose team have a win and a draw in the league so far. "We don't have that much information about our opponents but we have already seen two videos and from our perspective we have what it takes to win the group. However, it won't be a walk in the park; that's for sure.

"We'll try to start the competition very strongly so we can qualify after the two first matches. We are still not at the level we want to be but we are getting there. This competition will be a huge step in that direction."