Carlos Carvalhal is a vastly-experienced coach with a decent track record of doing well in cup competitions.
As manager of Leixoes, the likeable Portuguese led the third-tier club to the Portuguese Cup final in 2002. His side caused a major upset in the last four of the tournament, recording a surprise 3-1 victory over Carvalhal’s hometown club Braga.
He recalled: “I have good memories about that year.
“We beat my former club Braga 3-1 to reach the final. They were ready with the shirts and flags because they expected to get to the final as they were playing a third division team at home. They expected to go to the final but, live on TV, we played absolutely fantastic.
“We won 3-1 and there was a big party in the city and my friends from Braga were very upset but it was very nice!”
Although Leixoes lost 1-0 to Sporting Lisbon in the final, Carvalhal, against the odds, became the first coach in the country to take a team in the third level to the UEFA Cup.
“I was a young coach at that moment but I prepared the team in the same way as I would a big team,” he said. “We played high quality football in the third division and that’s why we beat second and first division clubs.
“We did something exceptional in Portugal at that time and we got out of the group stages of the Europa League.
“We lost 1-0 to Lisbon but there was very bad refereeing in this game. He should have red carded a Sporting player after two minutes. We hit the post twice. It was a very special game as it was probably the first time that the team who lost got more applause than the team who won!
“It was not just our 10,000 fans who were in the stadium but the Lisbon fans gave a big tribute to our team because it was something special.”
Carvalhal can’t wait for tonight’s clash at struggling Premier League outfit Newcastle United. He has hinted his fringe players, including Lewis McGugan and Sergiu Bus, will be involved.
“We work in football to play in these kind of environments,” said Carvalhal. “We know that we will have a lot of fans cheering us on which is important.
“There will probably be 40 odd thousand and it’s what you are in football for. We will enjoy the game. We must fight a lot and believe that we can get into the next round.”