Welcome to my latest post looking back at my Botafogo save. If you have read my earlier posts you will know that we managed to pull off a domestic double by winning the Brazilian Cup and then the League title. So to the latest season and the board have raised their expectations, they want us to win both the state championship and Brasiliero and reach the Semi Finals of both the Copa Libertadores and Copa Brasil. Now that’s a considerable hike in expectations especially the Copa Libertadores however I had every confidence in the squad that I had at my disposal with just 2 players leaving the club during the break, Bruno Silva went to Fenerbahce and Airton joined Santos. I brought 2 players in on loan as cover both Leandro (AM) and Luis Henrique (CF) both with options to buy but I did not excersise that clause with both players playing very little as the season panned out.
“Where Garrincha Left His Boots’ says Nuno a Botafogo supporter telling the story of a penalty shootout in the Estadio Olimpico João Havelange, now known has the Estadio Nilton Santos the home of Botafogo. The Story itself refers to a penalty shootout between Botafogo and Flamengo to decide a behind closed doors friendly that saw Flamengo win the shootout in the goal to the left of the dug outs, on winning the shootout the Flamengo players apparently taunted the Botafogo players with one of them referring to the last penalty miss by an unknown Botafogo player with the quote “Where Garrincha Left His Boots” which to this day nobody really knows what was meant by the quote however it is said that Botafogo have never won a penalty shootout against another Brazilian side in that goal since that day. I have been told by a work colleague from Portugal that the Portuguese use a phrase “Where Judas Left His Boots” in reference to any place that they don’t particularly like.
Rio State Championship
The board wanted us to win it but myself I was not that fussed if we didn’t because my priority was to concentrate on defending the title and making progress in the Copa Libertadores which if you are not familiar with, it’s the South American equivalent to the Champions League. Anyway the Rio State Championship gave us the chance to get the squad some valuable game time. It can be a pretty hectic schedule so it’s important to get all the squad up to pace as soon as possible because you need a good rotational system in place once the Copa Brazil and Copa Libertadores kicks in alongside the regular season. We managed to get in to both the turn 1 and turn 2 finals meaning we would also play in the 2 legged playoff final to determine the Rio State Championship winner which we did win picking up my first ever State Championship trophy beating Boavista RJ 2-0 on aggregate. In total we played 15 games winning 11 drawing 1 and losing 3 and keeping 12 clean sheets along the way. Top scorer for us was Sassa who netted 6 times ahead of Rodrigo Pimpão who netted 4 of our 25 goals scored against just the 3 that we shipped. It was nice to pick the title up but more importantly our fitness levels were up to speed.
Copa do Brasil
The board were looking for us to advance to the Semi-finals and we achieved that by getting to the final which pitted us against our rivals Flamengo who defeated us over the 2 legs 0-1 on aggregate. On the way to the final we had wins over Santos and Fluminense and superb performance by one of our youngsters Pachu in the Semi-final scoring an hat-trick in a 3-1 win. It would have been nice to have retained the Copa but we fell short at the last hurdle. Sassa led the way in the goalscoring chart with 9 goals plus both youngsters Kanu and Matheus deserve a mention for getting on the scoresheet.
With the board expectation of reaching the Semi Final stage I prioritised this competition as it was my first ever experience of it and it’s the flagship competition in South America like the Champions League in Europe. We opened the group stage with a trip to Ecuador to face Barcelona who we beat at a canter 4-1 with goals from Gilston, Montillo 2 and Lindoso that gave us a solid start. Next up we entertained Sporting Cristal from Peru and they gave us a good game which ended in a 0-0 draw. Next up was the double header against Bolivian club Jorge Wilstermann who we beat 3-0 and 4-0 to put us top of the table with 2 games to play and with the knowledge that a win against Sporting Cristal would put us through to the next stage, and we did just that with a single goal from Joel 13 minutes from time giving us all 3 points. So we ended the group stage with a 3-1 win in the Nilton Santos against Barcelona to top the group. The first knockout round draw paired us with Guarani from Paraguay with the first leg away producing a 3-1 win for us setting up an opportunity for us to get the job done in the Nilton Santos. The 2nd leg was a tight affair but we edged our opponents out winning 2-1 to set up an all Brazilian quarter final against Atlético Mineiro. With the media predicting a cat and mouse encounter we made them look silly with a fantastic 4-0 win to take in to the 2nd leg. With a 4 goal cushion I decided that we would go for the jugular from the start and it paid off with a 2-0 lead at half time the tie was dead as a competition but we went out for the second period looking for more goals, and with the thanks to a Rodrigo Pimpão double we ran out 4-1 winners to set up a mouth watering Semi Final clash against Argentina’s River Plate. In an hostile environment at the Monumental home of River we ran out 3-1 winners with goals from Camilo, Marcelo and Joel that put one foot in to the final, however I am a believer of 1 game at a time and I tell the boys to go out and give our fans something to cheer about in a packed Nilton Santos. With ten minutes on the clock Marcelo put us 1 up on the night and 4-1 on aggregate meaning River had to throw caution to the wind which left them exposed at the back which resulted in Rodrigo Pimpão scoring an hat-trick and a 4-0 win that had catapulted us in to the Final where we would play fellow Brazilian club Coritiba over two legs. The first leg of the Final was played in Curitiba in front of a sell out crowd of 45.500 in the Couto Pereira stadium. We were at full strength but could not break down a tight Coritiba defence who stood firm on the night after they took an early lead. We had a couple of clear cut chances however both Rodrigo Pimpão and Sassa failed to hit the net so we left Parana with a 0-1 defeat which gave us a great chance to overturn the tie in the Nilton Santos. The 2nd leg of the Final kicked off in front of our own supporter’s with us taking the game to our visitors with us racing in to a 3-0 lead inside 30 minutes with goals from Camilo, Victor Luís and Montillo. 3 up at the break I told the boys not to become complacent, we were on the verge of being crowned South American champions but the game took a turn in the 50th minute when Coritiba pulled a goal back to make it 3-2 on aggregate in our favour. Camilo came close to killing the tie in the 79th minute only to see his crash off the upright and then with 1 minute of normal time remaining we concede a goal that will haunt me forever after I made a change bringing on defender Emerson Silva for Marcelo who was dead on his feet. Emerson Silva gives away the ball with his first touch that opens us up and let’s Coritiba back in to the game at 3-3 on aggregate taking the game to extra time. The extra 30 minutes past without any incident and we were now in to the lottery of a penalty shootout. Coritiba took the first spot kick 1-0 then Montillo stepped up for us 1-1 he tucked it away in style, Coritiba again 2-1, Emerson Santos 2-2, Coritiba 3-2, Camilo misses for us 2-3, Coritiba 4-2, we can’t miss now up steps Rodrigo Pimpão no question he scores straight down the middle 3-4, Coritiba can win with the next kick however Jefferson saves we are back in it, up steps Sassa my heart is beating out of my chest come on, here we go Sassa places it to the right of the keeper who manages to get an hand to it and save it…..it’s over Coritiba are victorious, we have let the game slip away, believe in superstition or not but in moment of irony there is only one thought going through my head “Where Garrincha Left His Boots”
Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A
We defended our title in great style with just 1 defeat in the opening 21 games and keeping a total of 18 clean sheets throughout the season we ended up winning the title by 8 points but in reality it could have been a far bigger margin if I had not rested players in preference to the Copa Libertadores run because we lost 7 of our final 11 games by fielding weaker sides. I am pleased to have retained the title and will look to make it a treble next year. One big surprise of the season is seeing Sao Paulo relegated.
Campeonato Brasileiro Team Stats
Campeonato Brasileiro Player Stats
Botafogo Squad Stats
Another fantastic season for the Botafogo fans with us delivering the double of the Brasiliero Campeonato and the Rio State Championship and runners up in both the Copa Libertadores and Copa Brasil. The close season will see a number of first team players leave the club has we look to promote a number of youth team players in to the first team squad in what will be a season of transition. I will be writing about our next season soon that includes a tactical change. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.