Sambafoot Sunday: Botafogo's Shaky Start to 2014
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
Botafogo’s start to the 2014 season has been far from ideal. They were knocked out of the Copa Libertadores in the group stages, and have only four points from their five games played in the Brasileirão so far.
On top of this they only came ninth in the local Rio de Janeiro state championship earlier in the year, finishing below opponents who are much further down the divisions in the national leagues.
The club’s failure to pay their players wages due to financial difficulties hasn’t helped, and the performances on the pitch have reflected this enforced amateur status.
Earlier this month the club made a last minute payment which prevented players terminating their contracts and leaving the club, as they’re entitled to do if unpaid for three months.
Despite all the negatives, Vágner Mancini, the man who’s in charge of the team after the departure of Oswaldo de Oliveira to Santos and a short stint at the helm from coach Eduardo Hungaro, is slowly re-organising the side even if the results aren’t coming.
It all clicked a couple of weeks ago against Criciúma, a side who it has to be said didn’t offer much resistance, but Botafogo still managed to score six goals and keep a clean sheet. Young midfielder Daniel bagged himself a hat-trick, adding to a brace from Emerson Sheik and a late goal from Wallyson - the star of Botafogo’s Libertadores qualification triumph which now seems so long ago.
Emerson Sheik is on loan at the club from Corinthians, and despite coming in for criticism from some quarters, looks like a player whose extra quality could see the team out of the mess they find themselves in.
The experienced forward also appears to have been nominated as a dressing room leader, and has gone some way towards filling the massive gap left by the departure of Clarence Seedorf to coach Milan.
Even with three goals in four games so far, Emerson Sheik still has plenty of work to do in order to improve his own game, and help the team further. In support of him Botafogo will need one or two of their younger players to step up, impress, and prove they have what it takes to make an impact in the first team.
Daniel made a good case for inclusion with his hat-trick, but the likes of Gegé, Sassá, Sidney, Fabiano, and Vinicius are amongst those waiting in the wings.
One youngster who’s already established in the first team, Dória, is highly regarded both in Brazil and by scouts abroad. However, the 19-year-old centre back has struggled for form so far this season, and will be hoping that his participation for Brazil in the upcoming Toulon Tournament will help him get back on track.
Botafogo’s next game is away to Grêmio on Wednesday evening (2am on Thursday morning for those in the UK), and they’ll have to be at their very best if they’re to get even a point from the game in Caxias do Sul.