Pre-season : Portugal memories

Sunderland are heading out to Portugal this week in preparation for the 2019-20 season where they will face Benfica B and C.F. Belenenses.

Last summer, we headed there for a training camp as Jack Ross got to learn all about his new squad in the summer sun, though we did not play any games.

Back in 2014, the Lads headed to Albufeira for three pre-season games as Gus Poyet prepared his team for the 2014-15 Premier League season.

Spanish second division side Recreativo de Huelva were the first side we faced and the gaffer played a makeshift squad.

Joel Dixon started in goal, while Andrew Cartwright, David Ferguson, Liam Agnew, Tom Beadling, Tom McNamee, Duncan Watmore, Martin Smith, Mikael Mandron, Carl Lawson and George Honeyman played in what was a young Sunderland side.

It was to be Mikael Mandron who netted the only goal of the game as he scored a 77th-minute penalty. 

That kept Sunderland’s 100% record in pre-season as they had previously defeated Darlington, Carlisle United and Hartlepool United.

Next up, was a game against Portuguese side Nacional.

Poyet gave a first outing to Patrick van Aanholt who had recently signed from Chelsea, but that was not enough to prevent a 1-0 defeat as future Sheffield Wednesday player Lucas Joao scored the only goal of the game in the final minute.

The final match of the tour was arguably the worst for the travelling Sunderland contingent as Vitoria Setubal held the Lads to a mundane 0-0 draw. 

Prior to 2014’s visit to Albufeira, the Black Cats visited the region back in 2008 under Roy Keane’s tenure where they competed for the Albufeira Cup.

The first game took place on July 20 against Sporting Lisbon and was broadcast live to supporters at home.

Keane selected a strong side with Craig Gordon, Phil Bardsley, Dwight Yorke, Nyron Nosworthy, Danny Collins, Carlos Edwards, Dean Whitehead, Daryl Murphy, Andy Reid, Kieran Richardson and Ross Wallace all starting. 

It was to be an eventful game with Nosworthy scoring his only goal for Sunderland while fringe players Anthony Stokes and Roy O’Donovan netted to give Sunderland a 3-1 victory and the Cup.

Our final game in Portugal that summer came against Vitoria de Setubal, and Keane ran the changes to maximise the squads playing time.

Darren Ward, Danny Higginbotham, Russell Anderson, Grant Leadbitter, Michael Chopra and Rade Prica all played as the Lads drew 1-1.

Getting the goal was Kieran Richardson, who looked in fine form heading into the 2008-09 campaign. 

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