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  • "The difficulty of the challenge makes the project attractive" - Marc Dos Santos



    The Ottawa Fury's head coach in its inaugural NASL season tells CSN about why he accepted the capital city club's offer to leave Brazil, what he learned from his two-year stay in the land of samba and what his squad could look like less than a year away from its official launch.

    How and when Ottawa did approach you?

    Marc Dos Santos (MDS): They got in touch with me during my time in Brazil and we started talking. Then I went to Montreal recently for a seminar with Quebec coaches and, they brought me to visit Ottawa to show me their project and where they are going with their club.

    What was the deal breaker for you to accept to leave Brazil to come to Ottawa?

    MDS – It’s the high level of difficulty of the project. To take a club without a player that wants to do good and make its mark on the North American scene and I felt honoured to be the first to guide this club in this unique adventure. The challenge is so difficult and I want to try it out.

    How wasn’t Brazil more attractive than this offer from Ottawa?

    MDS - Don’t be mistaken here, Brazil is attractive in every aspect, but it would have taken many years for me to break it into the first or second division in Brazil. As the process was a bit longer than expected here in Brazil, Ottawa came in with their project and the level of ambition with what they want to do in North America. We felt that the timing was good for us.

    You often talk about doors in your journey as a coach, is the Brazilian door closing on you with your move back in Canada?

    MDS – Absolutely not. Nobody knew me when I arrived in Brazil, I was able to make a name for myself and set up great contacts. Today my name is stronger in Brazil. In the week I signed with Ottawa a big Brazilian club came up with the idea to bring me on their first team’s coaching staff, but I had already committed to the Fury and my word is important. The doors are open for me in Brazil, but now I’m focussed on leading a club that still has to hire a player and make it a NASL powerhouse.

    FC Edmonton has taken a Canadian-first approach with its coaching staff and player personnel do you feel Ottawa is adopting the same mindset for its club?

    MDS – Ottawa want to have a winning team. We have the interest as the national capital’s club to have Canadian players on the squad, but first we want good players. We plan to be competitive in the first year and battle for the title in year two. Everyone involved with this project has a winner mentality. That’s what we want to build with Canadian, American and foreign players.

    Have you already contacted players you want to bring in?

    MDS - People know me. From the minute I was hired I had names and people in mind. We have already met with some guys. We are really excited with what’s coming up. We see North America as an area of growth. This team in Ottawa is great for the future of Canadian soccer.

    Will the Montreal Impact fans be able to recognize a few faces on the Ottawa squad next season.

    MDS - I currently have no names of former Montreal players on my list, but we are open to look, depending on the player, his level of ambition. As I always say, I will have to take business decisions in the future because the only thing in my mind and in Ottawa’s mind is to win.

    We’ll return to Ottawa later… How did your Brazilian experience teach you as a coach and as a man?

    MDS – Personnally, I had heard about the passion of Brazilians for their futebol and the relationship they have to the sport, but I had never lived it. I’m so thankful to God for this experience. It’s only been two years, but I feel like I could return in the future because we are leaving Brazil with good memories with lots of people working with me and my family. I have learned to love this country.

    I have learned many things about negotiations with players, things that I ignored back in Montreal that could have helped us. Soccer has to do with relationships and these lead to good contacts and good players. I believe I will be able to innovate with many things in Ottawa.

    There are so many highlights for me I don’t know where to start, but I will cherish all my life the U-15 national cup title we’ve won with Palmeiras. Whichever country in the world you are it’s always complicated to win a national title, especially in Brazil where it’s so competitive in the youth level.

    You realize you are coming back to Canada as the World Cup is coming to Brazil?

    MDS - We fully realize that as we signed with Ottawa. The life of a professional soccer coach has nothing to do with other jobs out there. I respect the work that everybody does, but the life of a coach is so different and the best person to talk about that is my wife. Sometimes we make plans thinking we’ll stay three or four years somewhere then somebody knocks at your door or calls you on the phone with an other offer and plans change. I can tell you that Ottawa guided me with what was good for my future and my family’s future.

    When you recently came to Montreal you arrived face to face at the airport with the Impact’s players and staff on their way to Toronto for the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semi-final. Did you have time to chat a bit?

    MDS – I recognized Marco Schällibaum and I saw Nick DeSantis, Joey Saputo and Hassoun Camara. I saw Hassoun join the club in 2011 and it’s such a joy for me to see him do so well in MLS, something I saw in him from the first day I saw him at that open trial. I still have a love for the Montreal Impact, as I have a love for Palmeiras and Desportivo Brasil. When you work at a club that treats you well and with which you have experienced things there’s always something special that stays with you in relation with that club. That’s the biggest joy of my career. We have experienced many things and I’m only turning 36 so my family and I are really excited about the future. There’s no tomorrow for a coach, you must live each day intensity and ambitiously. My contract with Ottawa ends on December 31, 2015. Who knows if I will leave before or after?

    We know that next year’s Amway Canadian Championship will pit Ottawa against Edmonton in the quarterfinals before the winner faces the best-ranked team in MLS, a position currently held by Montreal. Without going too far, too fast, wouldn’t it be something for you to face Montreal next spring in a cup match?

    MDS – I think this would be great for media in Montreal and Ottawa, but it’s so far away. We have to put a team up first and then face an ambitious FC Edmonton. Did I think about it? Yes, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    Do you have people in mind to join you on your coaching staff?

    MDS – My team is complete apart from the goalkeeper coach position. I can’t give you names today, but they are skilful people that will bring a positive energy to the locker room. Some know the NASL others will learn about it. The league has changed since I left Canada. For instance it’s good to see San Antonio and their stadium, Minnesota has grown, Tampa is competitive. There are more and more teams in North America and I believe that the MLS is not enough for the growth potential and the demand for professional soccer on the continent. I believe we will see the day where there will be two healthy divisions with a promotion and relegation system.

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