Busy schedule for Joel Santana


Yesterday he and his victorious side flew from Rio de Janeiro to Mexico City for tomorrow’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal match against CF America Mexico at the Azteca Stadium – some 7700 km away.

The contingent will be back in Rio on Friday morning after spending more than 24 hours either flying or waiting at various airports and then have just 32 hours to recuperate their energies for next Sunday’s second leg encounter with Botafogo.

Such are the stresses and strains of the modern game that Flamengo has taken their full complement of 25 players.

“We don’t want to prioritise the Campeonato Carioco, but it is such a pity we have to travel such a long distance and therefore will be unable to be properly rested for Sunday’s game,” Santana says.

And Safa’s new man has not ruled out the possibility of remaining in Rio for Flamengo’s return clash with the Mexican side on May 7.

“Maybe,” he responded in English, smiling to the Brazilian press, but at the same time trying unsuccessfully to hold back tears - as emotions got the better of him and he tried to cover up for a previous statement which referred to his South African monetary package.

”I’m not leaving Flamengo because of money; people must stop thinking like this. The country, which hosts the next World Cup, is calling me. Although we are outside the Christmas period, that job is certainly a present for me.”

Brazilian press reported that Santana was ‘upset’ when a certain South African newspaper referred to him as a “Mr Nobody”.