Ricardo wants to win big with Sundowns

ricardo 230418Ricardo Nascimento shrugged and then contorted his face as if he was asked an offensive question before offering a simple response.
The question posed to the Mamelodi Sundowns centre-back was what it would mean for him to win the Absa Premiership and the Nedbank Cup with the Brazilians.

Sundowns sit pretty at the summit in the league, six points clear of second-placed Orlando Pirates with three matches to go, and the Brazilians take on Maritzburg United today in the Cup semi-finals at Harry Gwala Stadium (3pm).

“Sundowns is a good team; it’s normal that they would win things. For me, it’s normal that Sundowns should win the league and the cup. Sundowns is a big team. This is normal,” Nascimento said.

The Brazilian, however, is yet to lift a major trophy with the team he joined two years ago. The only cup he has won with the club is the Caf Super Cup – a dress rehearsal for the start of the Caf Champions League and Caf Confederation Cup seasons.

That looks set to change this season, especially in the league that Sundowns have one hand on. The Brazilians’ success in the league is built on a solid team effort which has seen coach Pitso Mosimane rotate his players to keep them fresh due to the club’s hectic schedule so that they don’t run out of steam towards the end like they did last season.

Nascimento, whose English is still a work in progress, has been paired with Motjeka Madisha, Wayne Arendse and the French-speaking Soumahoro Bangaly this season. Regardless of who he has been paired with, there have been no communication challenges in a position that requires good communication.

“There are no communication problems in camp. They know that my English is not perfect so they speak easy English but football is a universal language and that’s why we don’t have communication problems in the match. Our coach also knows a lot of languages so that helps.”

Nascimento speaks fondly about his family. His wife and child were with him at Sundowns’ base in Chloorkop on Thursday.

“South Africa is a very good place. My wife loves it here. My family is happy. That’s important to me, that the wife is happy and the family is happy here,” he said.

“South Africa is different to Portugal but I have enjoyed my life here. The people are a lot like Brazilians. They are happy, they walk with a smile on their faces. In Portugal people are serious. They walk around with straight faces.”

Those straight faces in Portugal will see Nascimento in the future.

The 31-year-old plans to end his career in Portugal because his wife prefers it there over his home country Brazil.

But that’s further down the line. At the moment he is focusing on his life at Sundowns, looking to win a number of accolades with the club and then return to Portugal where he was playing before making the trek to the southernmost part of the African continent.

“Football in Portugal is very good,” Nascimento said.

“There are good teams like Porto, Benfica and Sporting (Lisbon). They do well in the (Uefa) Champions League. Here, the biggest difference is that football isn’t as tactical as it is in Portugal.

“Run, run and speed. Players run a lot here. The strikers here run a lot. They must relax and let the ball do the running. But the football is good. I am happy here. I have been here for two years and I am still adjusting to the pace. If people can be patient with me, I will be a good player for Sundowns with time.”