May 20, 2024
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‘The Minimum You Ask Is The Fight’: Dos Santos Wants More Growth From Valour Squad

By on May 6, 2024 0 812 Views

“Let me start by saying what the guys had to do today, coming in after what happened on Wednesday, is extremely difficult,” opened Valour FC boss Phillip Dos Santos.

The head coach had just watched his side succumb to a two-nil defeat to Atletico Ottawa, three days after that same fixture saw Ottleti run wild with a cup record seven nil-victory. Valour had lost its three games before the trip to the nation’s capital, but losing nine-nil on aggregate over a span of a half-week lands on another level.

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“It’s a big hit for a team to take. It’s a big hit for all of us emotionally, and that wears you out. What I asked the guys is that we absolutely needed to be better pros, to fight, to show a little bit, and definitely more responsibility in the way that we play and we approach the game,” continued the gaffer.

Atletico Ottawa Gabriel Antinoro
Photo Credit: Tim Austen

Last season saw Valour shine in moments, but not for the ninety minute spells a club needs to put together results. They’ve moved to the same beat in 2024, with the club having some good moments like a strong opening half against Vancouver, a second half against Pacific, the bulk of its away trip to Forge, and certainly this weekend’s second half against Atletico Ottawa – though it was too little, too late.

“I think that today the team displayed a little bit of what we could be,” says Dos santos, who said that simple moments let the team down on the night. The two goals Valour conceded were not ones you expect to see at the professional level, and he says they’ll need to make sure they’ll deal with those items better in the future.

“It’s been tough,” acknowledged Noah Verhoeven regarding a constant string of away games. While the midfielder is on loan from Atletico Ottawa, he played for Valour against his parent club in both losses, narrowly missing a rocket at the end of the first half.

“We knew it was going to be tough when we saw the [league] schedule and obviously we’re doing the field [renovation at home]. We’re at a point now where we’re in it, it’s about showing the character.”

Valour FC Noah Verhoeven
Photo Credit: Tim Austen / Freestyle Photography

Dos Santos believes the team is still in a moment of assembly, where he’s in the process of building something with a very new group of players. It’s true that no side embarked on as much of a roster rebuild as Valour, who let go an astounding sixteen players followings its last-place finish in 2023.

“You have an idea as a manager how you’re going to shape the team and how certain guys are going to respond, but you never know until you’re in the line of fire,” says Dos Santos, who highlighted how impressed he was with the performance of defender Frankie Facchineri despite the result.

“For me, that’s how it needs to be every day, every player. The minimum you ask is the fight. Your ability to compete and not allow the opposition to win that game. Today, there were big moments in the game where we were a lot better, not a little bit, a lot better than where we were on Wednesday.”

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After conceding two goals in the first 32 minutes, Dos Santos made a tactical move in taking off Zachary Sukunda, who had been at fault for the second goal. Dos Santos explained the swap for Diogo Ressurreicao wasn’t related to that, but moreso to bring some balance in transitions: with Dante Campbell dropping back as a centre-back, he wanted the Portuguese midfielder to help in moments of transition, aiming to release players like Themi Antonoglou who can loose balls on a dime from the flank.

“For us it was about bringing in a little bit more quality in between lines and allowing us to have a little bit more of the ball in between the lines, and force some errors in Ottawa. I think that today, when it comes to terms of possession, we grew in the game. Now the next level is being able to get a little bit more going forward with players behind the opposition’s back line.”

Valour’s first shot on target came from substitute Shaan Hundal with about twenty minutes left on the clock, so the balance of transitioning into dangerous areas of the final third is a recipe they’ll want to cook quickly.

Valour FC Darlignton Murasiranwa
Photo Credit: Tim Austen / Freestyle Photography

While Dos Santos wasn’t pleased to lose, the team held Atletico Ottawa to a scoreless second half, and never conceded after the tactical change in the 36th minute. That also including a goalkeeper swap after Jonathan Viscosi appeared to pull his hamstring, with Darlington Murasiranwa – who had been in net for the seven-nil drubbing – keeping Valour’s space between the posts safe this time around.

“This was by far our most responsible and successful defensive display, where we played against a very good side in their home and we didn’t give them any big chances that I can recall, taking away the two goals,” says Dos Santos. “I think that’s something that we need to grow from and build from.”

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The club will play three more matches on the road before Princess Auto Stadium is ready for a home game. There’ll be time to rest in Winnipeg ahead of the club’s next match, which comes against another struggling side in York United. With Valour having beaten the Nine Stripes 3-1 during their last trip to York Lions Stadium, it’ll be a fixture filled with hope for the visitors.

Header Image Photo Credit: Tim Austen / Freestyle Photography

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