Dundee upbeat despite 4-0 defeat against top-flight Portuguese side

© David YoungSteven Caulker in action against Portimonense. An ankle knock in that friendly saw him sent home from Portugal, Neil McCann says.
Steven Caulker in action against Portimonense. An ankle knock in that friendly saw him sent home from Portugal, Neil McCann says.

Neil McCann has “plenty to work on” after his Dundee side came out on the wrong side of their training game in Albufeira – but insists fans shouldn’t worry too much about the 4-0 scoreline.

Taking on an impressive Portimonense side, who finished 10th in the Portuguese top flight last season, the Dark Blues dominated proceedings early on before the local side took control in the 25-degree heat.

After taking the lead with the last kick of the first period through Andre Clovis, a raft of substitutions from the Portuguese team in the second of the three half-hour periods changed the game.

The introduction of Japanese international Shoyo Nakajima turned up the heat on an already sweltering morning for the Dark Blues defence and he swiftly set up a further three goals, Emmanuel Hackman, Yuta Koike and Wellington Carvalho finding the net.

For the travelling Dundee side, though, manager Neil felt it was a good exercise for his side as he looks to change their style of play for the coming season.

He said: “There is plenty to work on and I know it’s 4-0 and people will look at that. However, I’m not worried because, looking at the first period of the game, we were quite strong and that’s off the back of two very demanding sessions.

“I knew they would tire but it’s about getting minutes into them.

“It was a good exercise because Portimonense were a good outfit. In the first period, I thought we were excellent, the movement with Elton Ngwatala, Paul McGowan and Glen Kamara at times was exceptional.

Neil McCann isn’t too concerned about the loss.

“We are workong on changing our shape, we did a lot of work on Saturday on that.

“It was a match we knew would be difficult but we’re gearing up for next week and did a lot of work on Saturday morning and evening. There was a lot of work put in.

“In that game, for the first half-hour, I thought we were excellent.

“I thought we dominated the ball, we looked a threat with Jean Mendy, a couple of good balls into the box, and then they score with the last kick of the ball in that half.

“Then, in the second period, they freshened it up a wee bit and we lost a grip of the game.

“At 1-0 we should have a penalty, we were arguing with the Portuguese officials but I don’t think we’re going to win that one – calling for VAR but we’re not getting it!

“That might have changed the match but then we got done on a short corner and then another breakaway and a third one, too.

“That just showed these boys are more used to the conditions, we did flatten, you could see the energy go down.”

The players have been hard at it all week in the Portuguese sun with double sessions each day to get their fitness up for the start of the season in six days time. More important for Neil, however, is getting his new tactical tweaks into the side for the coming campaign, something he plans to work on more for tonight’s friendly against SC Farense, again in the Estadio Municipal de Albufeira.

He added: “We’re trying to change things a bit on how we play and we’re tweaking a bit on how we played last year.

“There are new things getting added to the existing boys as well as the new boys.

“It’s not just about bringing new guys in, I’m tweaking a bit on how we’re going to be playing.

“They are trying to adapt themselves to that as well and I think the new boys acquitted themselves well.”