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Vasco Matos: “We had to rebuild the players mentally.”

Vasco Matos: “We had to rebuild the players mentally.”

Santa Clara coach Vasco Matos in an interview with A BOLA newspaper

In his first appearance as a head coach at professional levels, Vasco Matos was the current captain of the Second League. the ballThe 43-year-old coach says that the face of Santa Clara has changed this season compared to the previous season thanks to the merit of the coaching staff, but also thanks to the work of the psychology department. “Hunger to win” is the secret of immunity, and it is a record that only 3 teams in the European Top 7 have achieved.

– He introduced himself as coach of Santa Clara on June 20. What is the goal of this project, which is your first experience leading a professional team?

I want to further my business in the world of football. As the years went by, I felt increasingly prepared to lead a team at this level. When we accepted this invitation from the President [Bruno Vicintin]We knew the club was coming off a season in which it was relegated. Therefore, the focus was on restructuring the club and the team so that there is consensus between the management and the technical staff, and I believe that the results are clear.

– What was the biggest difficulty you faced when you arrived?

When we arrived, the players who had transferred from last season were in disbelief. There was a lot of frustration due to the poor results. We created several departments, namely psychology. We had to rebuild the player mentally and emotionally. In the beginning, it was complicated because we had to empathize with the athletes and make them understand that football has good moments and bad moments, and that through work and our idea of ​​the game we can change things.

After relegation to the second division, Vasco Matos took over the technical leadership of Santa Clara. Image: Santa Clara CD

In the 2023/24 season, Santa Clara, Eindhoven, Bayer Leverkusen and St. Pauli are the only teams in the top seven in Europe that are still unbeaten in their league…

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This is evidence that the work, so far, is going well. I believe in my work and my idea of ​​the game. We are one of the few European teams that are yet to be defeated, and we are the best defense at the national level, conceding only 8 and eight goals. These brands make us proud and we embrace this responsibility. Our secret was to instill the message in the players that we must be hungry to win and that we are on the right track.

Given the success the team has had in the first half of the season, are you concerned about the transfer market reopening?

If you are talking about leaving, I have not asked the president to make any effort to retain any particular player. I know some players are greedy, but we will bet on continuity and I guarantee the players' focus is on Santa Clara. When it comes to entries, there may be some adjustments, but they will be players who add value and not just numbers. There are great reinforcements within our team and we did not reach first place by chance…

Santa Clara leads the second league with 33 points, two points ahead of Avis Sad. Photo: CD Santa Clara website

– What are your goals this season?

The first is achieved, which includes evaluating the players. After that, the goal of moving to the league was set. We are also in the round of 16 of the Portuguese Cup and we want to go as far as possible. Moving up the division and being at Gamore would be ideal, but we know it's complicated. Championship is the most important.

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– What is your analysis of this League 2?

– Very competitive! We must always stay within limits, otherwise we face serious risks. Honestly, this year is one of the most difficult because of the quality of many teams fighting for the same goal as us.

– President Bruno Vicentin claims to have “big dreams” for Santa Clara. How is your relationship with him?

The president is a person with a lot of ambition. The club is growing, even in terms of infrastructure, with the establishment of a training center in the short term. Now, to dream big for the future, you have to build the present and take sustainable steps. Money helps, but it's not everything in football.

– Wishes for 2024?

– Be an athlete happy with good results and make the team grow individually and collectively. This is what we are here for. Winning is the key.

Controversy with Sergio Conceição

We remember well the controversial match in Dragao between FC Porto and Casa Villa last season, which Porto fans won (2-1). At the end of the match, a verbal altercation broke out between Sergio Conceicao, the coach of the blue and white team, and Vasco Matos, the assistant coach of the Geese at the time. When asked what happened, Vasco Matos was direct in his answer: “Life will put everyone in their place.”

Negotiated exit

For the past three seasons, Vasco Matos has been assistant coach at Casa Pia. The current Santa Clara coach 'praises' Pena Manek's upward trajectory, and also addresses the reason for parting ways with Felipe Martinez. “I had the second level of training and when I was invited to join the Philippi technical team, the aim was that I could spend two years in professional football to qualify for the next level. I have always been clear with people and said that when I reached the third level, if I had the opportunity The opportunity to lead a team, I wanted to follow my own path. Santa Clara appeared, who sat at the table with Casa Pia and negotiated my departure.

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Paulo Fonseca praised

After a career that lasted almost 20 years as a player, Vasco Matos chose the most distinguished coach: “Paulo Fonseca at Aves, in 2011/12, showed me things that I did not understand yet and the idea of ​​the game captivated me. However, I always had good coaches, from Paulo Sergio, Vidigal and Vitor Oliveira.