CAIRO: Manuel Jose, who led Egypt s Al-Ahli to a second successive African Champions League title last week, says he deserves to take over as Portugal coach when Luiz Felipe Scolari leaves. Brazilian Scolari, who was appointed four years ago, agreed in July to extend his contract until 2008. Former Benfica, Boavista and Sporting coach Jose was touted for the Portugal job in 2002 before he withdrew his interest. The conditions to coach the team in 2002 were very bad. There were many problems, the 60-year-old Jose told Reuters in an interview. We were going to play Euro 2004 at home so I said [to the federation] first comes our country, our football, and the national team. If you want to contract another coach, contract another coach .
Asked if he was now interested in the job, Jose replied: If [Scolari] goes, I am sure I am going to be the candidate … I deserve to coach the national team. Scolari, the second foreigner to coach Portugal, took the team to the Euro 2004 final and reached the semi-finals of this year s World Cup. The Brazilian has been quoted by the media as saying Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz was angling for his job, having been spotted at Portugal matches.
United manager Alex Ferguson said on Friday that Scolari s remarks were a crazy thing to say . Jose, who also led Al-Ahli to African Champions League glory in 2001, said last week s final victory over Tunisians CS Sfaxien was a reward for his team s fighting spirit after overcoming several injuries during the campaign. Sfaxien were on course to win the trophy on away goals until a stoppage-time goal by Mohamed Aboutrika handed the title to the Egyptians. I told them, if we were going to lose this final, we had to lose like champions. In the second half, we played like champions and won, said Jose. The record-equaling fifth African Champions League title will take Al-Ahli to the World Club Cup in Japan next month for the second year in a row. They lost their two matches in last year s edition.
Al-Ahli s first game this time will be against New Zealand s Auckland City. Jose blamed last year s dismal performance on pressure put on the players by the Egyptian media. The trophy was won by Sao Paolo of Brazil. [The press] must know that if we play 20 times, we will not win the World Club Cup once. They must understand the difference between South America, Europe and Africa, he said. We will go this time to enjoy and try to win the first match. If we don t win, there is no problem, nobody is going to die.
Jose has had a tense relationship with the Egyptian media, who accuse him of arrogance.
He said the media wanted him out because of his success with Al-Ahli. Egyptian fans and pundits compare him to Chelsea s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho. I know the father of Mourinho. I played against the father many times. Look at my hair, there is no comparison, he said pointing to his white hair.