Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Lusitans

The Club

FC Lusitans, also known as Lusitanos, were founded in 1999 – the year when West Ham United last had to start their season in July. After immediately winning promotion to the top flight and following finishes ranging from 3rd to 6th in their first 12 years of existence, Lusitans won their first Primera Divisio championship in the 2011/12 season and retained their title the following year. They then slumped to 4th in 2014 before rising again to finish as runners-up just a few months ago.

The club’s name, crest and kit reflect their Portuguese heritage – their chairman, Antonio da Silva Cerqueira, is Portuguese as are numerous members of the playing squad. The supporters, known as Lusitanos or Lusos, are mainly Portuguese immigrants in Andorra or Andorran people of Portuguese heritage. The team’s kit manufacturer is the Portuguese brand Peba. However their manager, Jordi Roura, is Andorran.

Lusitans played their first European matches in the Europa League in 2010, where they were eliminated 11-0 on aggregate by Macedonian club Rabotnicki. In the following season’s tournament, they were beaten at the same stage by Croatian side Varazdin, 6-1 on aggregate. The club also appeared in the Champions League in 2012, again falling at the first hurdle as they were defeated 9-0 on aggregate by Maltese outfit Valletta. The Champions League beckoned again the following season and Lusitans were drawn to play EB/Streymur of the Faroe Islands; they drew 2–2 in the first leg at home despite leading 2–0 and missing a penalty to go 3–0 up. They lost 5–1 away in the second leg, and were knocked out 7–3 on aggregate.

Key Players

One of Lusitans’ most notable players is 34-year-old Spanish right-back/midfielder Edu Moya, who should wear number 6. After starting his career with Extremadura, he played 100 games for Tenerife in a four-year spell between 2002 and 2006. After short spells with fellow Spanish clubs Mallorca, Recreativo, Celta Vigo, Hercules and Xerez, Moya moved to Norway in 2012 to spend a season with Fyllingsdalen before a similar year-long stint in Bolivia with Club Bolivar. He joined Lusitans in 2014.

Oscar Sonejee, who will wear number 4, is in his second spell with Lusitans – he first played for the club in the 2012/13 season and returned last year after a brief stint back with FC Andorra, with whom he has had four spells. The 39-year-old (pictured in a 2007 altercation with Wayne Rooney) made his international debut for Andorra in 1997 and is his nation’s most-capped player with 101 caps, the most recent being earnt just last month. He is Andorra’s second-highest goalscorer with four goals and can play in midfield or defence. Sonejee works as an insurance salesman.

Alfi Conteh-Lacalle is a 30-year-old forward who will wear number 7. Born in Barcelona, he played for the Catalan club’s C and B sides before moving to Gava. He has since had spells in Greece with Kavala and in Hungary with Nyiregyhaza Spartacus and Honved before returning to Spain with Terrassa. Conteh-Lacalle has Sierra Leonean heritage and had a brief spell in the West African country with Kallon before joining Lusitans last year. He played for Spain’s Under-19 side but has won a full international cap with Sierra Leone.


Thursday’s officials are from Latvia, with the referee being 34-year-old Vadims Direktorenko; perhaps his most notable appointment came in Dublin when he was the man in the middle for Ireland’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Kazakhstan in October 2013. Direktorenko averaged four yellow cards per game last season.

Possible line-ups

Academy Director Terry Westley will take charge of the Hammers while Slaven Bilic will be in the stands after flying back from the first-team’s Cork training camp. Westley has taken the unusual step of publicly naming his team in advance – Darren Randolph is the only player who has been added to the club’s original squad list submitted on June 22nd, meaning Dimitri Payet and Stephen Hendrie will play no part in either the first or second leg of this first qualifying round. Randolph will start in goal and should become the first Hammers’ custodian to wear the number 1 jersey since Rob Green in 2012. James Tomkins will captain the side while Lewis Page will make his debut at left-back. Reece Oxford also makes his maiden start for the first-team, possibly in a holding midfield role alongside Diego Poyet. Meanwhile, Doneil Henry has been named in the squad submitted to UEFA – if deemed fit enough, he could claim a place on the bench.

Lusitans are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with the aforementioned Moya and Sonejee in defence and Conteh-Lacalle leading the line.

West Ham United XI: Randolph; O’Brien, Burke, Tomkins, Page; Oxford, Poyet; Amalfitano, Zarate, Jarvis; Sakho.

Possible Lusitans XI: Gerardo; Moya, Maciel, Sonejee, Acosta; Molina, Pinto; Soares, dos Reis, Aguilar; Conteh-Lacalle.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

Talking Point

Who's the Skipper?

With all the talk at the moment concentrated on possible new signings and the Europa League, one thing that has not had much air time is who is going to be the club captain for this coming season? Since the arrival of new boss Slaven Bilic and his back room staff there has been an air of the new broom sweeping clean. The appointment of a new captain is one that Slaven I am sure will be deliberating over and there are a few possibilities.

Captain for the past four seasons has of course been Kevin Nolan. Whilst he is still with the club at present the signs are that he probably won’t be come the start of the season. When the club unveiled its new 2015/16 kit on the official website recently, they paraded five players wearing the new design and no, Kevin was not one of them. Quite a telling statement and a lot heavier than a subliminal message! This past week he has been linked with a move back to Bolton but it would seem that our Kev will have to take quite a drop in wages to leave the Boleyn. If he does decide to stay and “take the money” I am sure it will only be in a bench warming position. It would appear either way that Kevin will not be our captain any longer.

Up to now the most obvious choice to take over from Nolan has been Mark Noble. Approaching ten years at the club he is our current Mr West Ham, coming through the youth system along with James Tomkins. In the matches where Nolan was out of the side last season it was Noble who took the armband if he was available. But, one has to ask, will Noble even be a regular in the side next season? The arrival of Dimitri Payat and Pedro Obiang, and the probability of Alex Song signing on a permanent deal further begs the question whether Noble will get enough game time to command the position? After an impressive first season it would be doubtful that Kouyate would not be one of the first names on the team sheet. Could he be a candidate?

Now if Song does sign a deal to permanently join West Ham he could also come into calculations. He skippered the side on several occasions last season in the absence of both Nolan and Noble. Given that he was only on loan at the club last season and he still got a gig in the role, you would have to imagine he has a good case. Another possibility could be Winston Reid. He has shown his commitment to the club by signing a long term deal recently and perhaps Bilic would favour a defender as skipper?

If passion is what you want from a captain then many would not look further than Adrian? It has never been my cup of tea having a goalkeeper as captain but it would not be a total surprise if he became the choice. However, it may even be possible our new captain is someone who has not even signed yet? With the promise from the club of one more major signing this transfer window who is to say our new captain is yet to join the club? It will be a decision that Slaven Bilic will be giving a lot of serious consideration to over the next few weeks. Mark Noble is an obvious favourite at the moment but who would be your choice?


Bilic's Backroom Boys

West Ham United’s pre-season trip to Cork has seen new manager Slaven Bilic meet some of his new players. Academy Director Terry Westley has taken the majority of
training in Ireland but Bilic was joined upon his arrival by some of his new backroom team – Nikola Jurcevic, Edin Terzic and Miljenko Rak.

Nikola Jurcevic was a midfielder, standing just short of 6’, who played for Dinamo Zagreb and NK Zagreb with a spell in Belgium with Antwerp in the 1988/89 season sandwiched in between. He moved to Austria in 1991, signing for the club now known as Red Bull Salzburg, and spent four years there, scoring 42 goals in 130 appearances.

From there he joined German side Freiburg; while he was with the German club, Jurcevic appeared three times for Croatia at Euro ’96. Wearing number 2, he made his first appearance in the tournament as an 82nd minute substitute in the 3-0 win over Denmark before playing the full 90 minutes in the 3-0 defeat to Portugal. He started in a holding midfield role for the 2-1 quarter-final loss to eventual tournament winners Germany before being substituted in the 78th minute, a game which saw former Hammer Igor Stimac sent off with the score at 1-1. Bilic, incidentally, played every minute of Croatia’s tournament.

In 1997, Jurcevic returned to Salzburg where he ended his playing career in 1999. He has since managed former clubs NK Zagreb in 2002/03, when they finished 6th in the league and reached the quarter-finals in the Croatian Cup, and Dinamo Zagreb in 2003/04, where he won the Croatian Cup and finished runners-up in the league. A brief spell as manager back at Salzburg lasted just over a month in the spring of 2005 before a similarly short spell in charge of Slaven Belupo in his homeland. Jurcevic, along with ex-Derby midfielder Aljosa Asanovic, was appointed as one of Bilic’s assistants for the national team and he remained in post between 2006 and 2012. He has since followed Bilic to Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas.

Edin Terzic is a 32-year-old who was Bilic’s first-team coach at Besiktas; Super Slav has described Terzic as being “really good with players”. Terzic, a right-sided midfielder, played in the German lower leagues from 2001 to 2013, with his most notable club being SG Wattenscheid in the 2006/07 season. He was assistant coach for Borussia Dortmund’s Under-19s and Under-17s between 2010 and 2013.

Miljenko Rak is a 67-year-old who will join as fitness coach. He held a similar role when working with the Croatia handball team who won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and with Janica Kostelic, a Croatian alpine skier who is the most successful participant in her sport in the history of the Winter Olympics. Rak also worked with Bilic during his time at Besiktas.

A collection of Bilic’s former Hammers’ team-mates have also been the subject of speculation regarding roles at the club since the Croatian’s appointment. Steve Potts is already working with the Development Squad, while Julian Dicks’ appointment as a first-team coaching assistant was confirmed yesterday. John Moncur, Ian Bishop, John Hartson and Steve Lomas have all been linked with coaching positions.

Player News

Aaron Cresswell Signs New 5 Year Contract

Well the big news we had been warned to expect tonight is indeed very welcome, although it’s not the big signing some were hoping for. Hammer of the Year Aaron Cresswell has signed a new five year contract, with an option for a further two years. It’s good to have him tied into a long term future and should ward off any suitors who had been planning to pounce.

The full story is on the club website HERE but here’s a short quote from Aaron on why he’s signed on the dotted line…

Thankfully last year was a good season for me personally to play every minute of every game, so it’s nice to finally commit my future to West Ham. I was at Ipswich 12 months ago and when West Ham came in for me there was only one place for me. I jumped straight in the car, down the A12 and signed for West Ham. So for me to play for a club like West Ham, week in week out, is massive and these are exciting times. It’s going to be a massive year for us, the last year at Upton Park. But it’s exciting times going into one of the best stadiums in Europe, even in the world. It’s going to be a good summer, hopefully a few more faces will come in and we’ll have a good year.”

In other news, Kevin Nolan is rumoured to be holding talks about a return to Bolton according to KUMB. The Mail report that West Ham have agreed personal terms with Alex Song, but there is no agreement between the club and Barcelona regarding a free transfer or fee.

Transfer Gossip

Please Let the Borini Rumour Be Untrue

Rumours are swirling that we might be in the market to sign Liverpool striker Fabio Borini. No, really. It’s the kind of rumour that makes you want to bang your head on the desk and shriek “Nooooooooooo!” The fee is said to be £8 million, can you believe.

In his entire career he’s only made 94 first team appearances, scoring 24 goals. At Sunderland he managed 7 in 32. At Liverpool he scored 2 in 25. With that ratio we might as well have kept Carlton Cole and saved ourselves £8 million. I am very much hoping this is all agent talk and there’s nothing in it. Surely we can do better than this. Loic Remy is a proven goalscorer and wouldn’t cost much, if any more. Given the choice of the two I suspect I know which 98% of us would go for.

Or do you disagree?

UPDATE: Claret & Hugh has a quote from a club spokesman saying there’s nothing in this rumour. Long may that remain so.

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