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Matos puts Sporting family first

João Matos has no wish to eclipse SL Benfica's success of last year but he does want to take the unique chance of bringing a European futsal trophy to Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Sporting's João Matos believes his team are set to seize glory
Sporting's João Matos believes his team are set to seize glory ©Sportsfile

The champagne is on ice in the Sporting Clube de Portugal dressing room ahead of the UEFA Futsal Cup final – and it will remain there even if Orlando Duarte's team overcome fellow first-time finalist ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5 to claim the trophy.

That is the pledge from defender João Matos as the Lisbon side prepare for a double date with destiny: tomorrow, against Montesilvano for the European title; next Sunday, versus SL Benfica for the Portuguese Cup. "First we have a really important final next week against Benfica," replied Matos, 24, when asked what celebrations would follow a Sporting victory at the Baluan Sholak Sport Palace in Almaty.

"However, the Futsal Cup is a title every player dreams of winning, it's something that in the past we've only been able to dream of winning, and I think we are now in the right condition to actually do it," added the Portuguese international. "It would be brilliant to bring it home to Sporting."

The squad would certainly be entitled to raise a glass to a first piece of continental silverware. Not only will Sporting succeed neighbours Benfica as UEFA champions if they prevail in Kazakhstan, they will also become the first club to lift European titles in five separate sports. "It would be a really important trophy for the club, making us the only club with five major European titles in as many different sports – indoor hockey, handball, athletics, football and futsal," Matos explained. "It's not only important for us as players and individuals, but also for the entire Sporting family."

The Lions' No9 has been ever-present in this UEFA Futsal Cup campaign, from a straightforward main round, via an elite round in which they looked close to elimination, to Friday's dramatic 3-2 semi-final triumph over tournament hosts Kairat Almaty. One match in particular stands out: the decisive 5-3 win against group favourites Murcia FS in November. Matos recalls: "After we struggled to draw against [FK EP] Chrudim, we were at risk of going out and everybody made Murcia favourites to qualify from the elite round, but the fact we then beat them [5-3] gave us great confidence, which we have taken into the final four."

Now they stand poised to steal the crown of their greatest rivals, who fell to Montesilvano in the other semi-final. However, this success story is about Sporting and Matos wishes to keep it in the family. "What Benfica did last season isn't a motivation for us," he said. "Our motivation is getting to the final and winning. Other clubs don't matter. What matters is that Sporting win, and in particular win trophies that we haven't lifted before."