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Sporting home in on Murcia challenge

Sporting Clube de Portugal hope to emulate SL Benfica's victory last term and are on home soil in elite round Group D against ElPozo Murcia FS, FK EP Chrudim and City'Us Targu Mures.

Leitão (left) and Jorge Fernandes in main round action for Sporting
Leitão (left) and Jorge Fernandes in main round action for Sporting ©Slov-Matic Bratislava

ElPozo Murcia FS (ESP)
Despite a stuttering start to the defence of their Liga title with an opening defeat by Lobelle de Santiago FS, Duda's side were soon back on track and have been scoring at an average of six goals a game. Recent signings such as Rafa, Thiago de Bail, Jaison and Dani Salgado have helped to strengthen last season's treble-winners and their coach knows they need to be in peak physical condition as they attempt to reach the finals for the third time in four attempts – having bowed out at this stage last season at the hands of Luparense Calcio A5. "We're looking at three games in just five days in this tournament and we know we can't afford any slip-ups as this is one of our main objectives of the season," Duda said.

Main round: bye
Key players:
Rafa, Vinicius, Saúl, Jaison, Dani Salgado

Sporting Clube de Portugal (POR)
With former Portugal coach Orlando Duarte returning in the summer to the club he left in 2000 for a successful decade with the national team, expectations are high at Sporting, who ended a four-year wait for a ninth league title last summer with victory against UEFA Futsal Cup winners SL Benfica. "Our main goal will be to win all four competitions we are involved in," said the 53-year-old coach when he was unveiled and his side soon had the first of those trophies in the bag with a 5-2 defeat of CF Os Belenenses to lift the Super Cup in early September. As for the UEFA Futsal Cup, Duarte said: "We want to win," while Alex, a winner with Action 21 Charleroi in 2005, added: "Everything is in place to beat ElPozo. We have to go through as hosts."

Main round: KMF Zelezarec Skopje 5-1, FC Kobarid 2-1, Slov-Matic Bratislava 2-1 (Group 1 winners)
Key players: João Benedito, Pedro Cary, Deo, Leitão, Fernando Cardinal

FK EP Chrudim (CZE)
Chrudim, aiming to reach the finals for the first time, have won the last four league titles and have been unstoppable so far this season. Cacau, 38, was appointed player-coach in the summer and his Brazilian compatriot Dentinho de Lima has made a free-scoring start to life in the Czech Republic. Although they suffered a 5-0 reverse against Iberia Star Tbilisi at the end of their main round campaign, they were already through by then to their fourth elite round slot in a row.

Main round: Mapid Minsk 6-2, Györi ETO FC 5-3, Iberia Star Tbilisi 0-5 (Group 4 runners-up)
Key players: Dentinho de Lima, Douglas da Silva, Radek Mikan, Michal Mareš, Tomáš Meller

City'Us Targu Mures (ROU)
European debutants City'Us did the Romanian double last year and already look on course to repeat the trick. Coach Sito Rivera, who also leads the national team, has seven of that squad in his club side along with three Brazilians and two Portuguese – and showed his ability in this competition last year in charge of semi-finalists Luparense. City'Us will be hard-pressed to match that and Rivera said: "Our mission in the elite round is almost a mission impossible. Two of our opponents are among the favourites and one of them, ElPozo Murcia, can be considered as the best club team in the world. One player from Murcia would cost as much as our whole squad, including the reserves. However, in sport two plus two does not always equal four, so we will try to spring a surprise."

Main round: FK Nikars Riga 7-1, Sporting Fingal FC 8-2, Araz Naxçivan 1-3 (Group 3 runners-up)
Key players: Carlao Fereirra, Robert Lupu, Robert Matei, Cosmin Gherman

Reporters: Paul Bryan, Hugo Pietra, Ladislav Josef & Paul-Daniel Zaharia

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