"There is tonnes of quality in the lower divisions where these guys play and the people in charge of bigger clubs should really take the time to find out just how good they are," said coach Dito after his Braga side beat Leinster & Munster 2-1 in Barcelos to win the 2010/11 UEFA Regions' Cup.
Braga had early problems against a wily, powerful Leinster & Munster team, though both sides hit the crossbar in the first half. The tide had begun to turn in the nimble hosts' favour by the time the classy Pedro Nobre arrowed in their opener just after the hour. The Irish outfit struck back quickly, David O’Sullivan rifling home after Rui Vieira spilled Ray Whelehan's free-kick, but the death blow was delivered on 83 minutes, with right-back José Fortunato chipping Brendan O'Donnell from out on the flank.
The finals took place in four venues – Vila Verde, Fao, Braga and Barcelos – in the Minho area of northern Portugal, with eight teams earning the right to challenge for the top prize in amateur football by progressing through one, and in Ankara's case two, qualifying rounds.
The seventh edition of the biennial tournament attracted sides from the Czech Republic, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, and, of course, Portugal. Ten years after losing in the final, Braga were worthy champions, having won all seven of their games in the 2010/11 competition.
Coached by former Portugal defender Dito, the hosts were strongly fancied and justified their billing as they overcame Czech outfit Zlín Region 3-1 on the opening day and then won 2-1 against Ukraine's Yednyst Plysky. Needing only a point on the final day to top Group A, Braga made it with something to spare, defeating Germany's Württembergischer FV 3-1.
Zlín took second place and a bronze medal as the best runners-up in the two groups thanks to a 2-1 victory over Yednyst.
Ireland's Leinster & Munster, meanwhile, won Group B despite kicking off with a 0-0 draw against Ankara. A 2-1 success over Belgrade second time out still left them second in the pool, but they were to finish first following a 2-1 comeback triumph against South Region Russia, with the Turkish team bowing to Belgrade on the last day.
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