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After the derby against Boavista (2-2), for matchday 19 of the Portuguese League, Sérgio Conceição made it clear that the national champions will fight until the end

FC Porto tied 2-2 against Boavista at Estádio do Dragão, for matchday 19 of the championship. In the end, Sérgio Conceição regretted the “disastrous first-half” for the blue and whites and admitted that he didn’t make the “best decisions”. Still, the blue and white coach reminded that the fight for the title is “not over”, assuring that the triplet winners will remain “a valuable team”.

Bad first-half
“Above all, it was a disastrous first-half from us. The shirts went in, but the shirts alone don’t play. You have to run and show dynamics. After losing the ball, you have to react, the transition attack-defence was terrible and we knew how they were going to play. Playing for FC Porto is not about just having a contract and coming from the youth teams, you need much more. It was my worst first-half since I’m coach. In the second-half, we corrected a few things and we were the team we normally are, with 13 shots against zero for them. We also lacked that hint of luck: their first goal comes from a play where a corner-kick shouldn’t have been given, and then Sérgio missed the 3-2 from penalty. It was our fifth match in 15 days, we didn’t have 72 hours to recover, and some of our players were banned from this match unfairly, due to refereeing mistakes, which limited my options. We are the ones to blame, it doesn’t concern Boavista, who played a good match and they will surely remain in this division if they keep playing like this, but I haven’t been seeing them play this aggressively. They countered our weapons well, and counter-attacked. We are the ones that are allowed to do what we did in the first-half.”

Admitting to errors
“As a coach, I failed in the first-half. Boavista’s team started with a line of five against Sporting and changed at halftime. It’s normal that our opponents come here with more people on the defence. Our strategy had that in mind - Fábio Vieira is good with the ball, Manafá added width on one wing and João Mário on the other, we had people on the inside with Taremi and Corona, playing well between lines, namely behind Boavista’s midfielders, and we also had someone offering depth, even without much space to move, with Marega in the middle and João Mário and Manafá in the wings. I admit I didn’t make the best decisions, it’s part of the life of a coach, and I’m admitting that.”

“I don’t want to talk about Juventus, that’s another match, another competition. This is the most important for us, the championship, and those who don’t understand what it means to play for FC Porto, as happened in the first-half, when we weren’t worthy of the club, don’t belong in the group. And it’s up to me to make those decisions, regardless of age, and regardless of having grown in the club and coming from outside, no matter if you’re 40 or 20 years old.”

Some media being unwise
“I have a close relation with the players, many of them are my sporting family, and many are friends for life. What people can’t say, people with responsibility, as Vítor Serpa has, is that I asked for a penalty in Jamor when I went in. Put your notebooks aside, be a man, be honest, take your club shirts off. Obviously, after seeing the condition of the player, I went to the referee and said I thought it was a penalty. The players are the main protagonists in football, they’re not the bad guys. And everyone needs to contribute to the show, the journalists, the League and the Federation included. Don’t bring your instructed opinions, and I’m extending this to other coaches as well.”

Harmful refereeing
“Our chairman spoke and he has been very clear on this. We have to say “enough” to what has been happening. There are three words that define the feeling of the work group: disbelief (never in my coaching career have I seen so many refereeing decisions influencing this many matches in a row), frustration (our dynamics were enough to win in Jamor and our last two matches, even outnumbered, as our game quality is high) and sadness (associated to the previous two words, as we didn’t get the result we wanted).”

Fight until the end
“This isn’t over, we are going to fight for it, as I have a group of men that has already shown they can turn the situation around, and fight until the end.  Things haven’t been easy, not just for what we haven’t been doing on the pitch, as we saw in this first-half. So far, we have been a valuable team and we will keep being valuable.”

Absence from press conferences
“I was in 57 out of 64 press conferences; in four of those, I had a fever. In one, I had a meeting with the chairman, and in the one to preview the match against Braga, I had been sent off. Just so no one starts saying I run away from the journalists.”

Importance of Francisco Conceição in the disallowed goal
“His job was to go in and do that. I treat him as everyone else here, I’ll reprehend him if needed, or hug him. The motional part stays home. He is a boy and he cried, it’s normal, he’s just human, I cried as well.”

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