First phase of Brazilian Championship ends

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The first phase of the Brazilian Championship ended this week, with some mixed results for the Rio de Janeiro clubs of Fluminense and Flamengo.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

The first phase of the Brazilian Championship ended this week, with some mixed results for the Rio de Janeiro clubs of Fluminense and Flamengo. Last Sunday (8 August) Flamengo defeated Sao Paulo 1-0 and ended its four-match winless streak in the Brazilian championship. However, Flamengo, Brazil's most popular club, remained at the bottom of the 24-team table despite the victory, only the team's second in its last 10 games. Fluminense are also in the doldrums, and languish 14th in the table. Illustrious history It has been tough in the last few months if you are a supporter of the Rio based teams Flamengo and Fluminense. Fluminense Football Club has a long and illustrious history. It was founded over 100 years back and has luminaries such as the strikers Romario and Edmundo, but it is only 14th in the table. Fluminense is ten points behind the leaders Santos who currently lead the championship with 41 points. To add salt to the wound Romario and Edmundo are out of the team, nursing injuries. Young guns Supporters are counting on players who are not household names, but the young guns. Goalkeeper Fernando Henrique, is 20. He arrived at Fluminense when he was 16 and played for the junior team until last April, when he got a place in the senior team. But Henrique - who also played for the Brazilian Under 20 Team - is surprising supporters with his mature defence. For Fluminense coach Ricardo Gomes the team has to improve the quality of its football during the next phase of the competition. Gomes, ended his career as a player in Benfica, after years playing for the French team Paris Saint-German, where he also worked as coach. He believes Fluminense has more up its sleeve. But Gomes' woes are nothing compared to Flamengo's. Scraping along at the bottom of the championship Flamengo has just 20 points. There is also a financial crisis - with the players' salaries taking an average of 3 months to be paid. New coach To try to sort out the problems of the team in the field, a new coach has been appointed in place of Abel Braga, who left the club after a plethora of complaints by supporters. He is Paulo Cesar Gusmao who used to coach Clube de Regatas Vasco da Gama - another famous team from Rio - in 2001. Having been the assistant of the coach Wanderley Luxemburgo in Cruzeiro Esporte Clube - the Brazilian Champion - Gusmao approaches Flamengo's travails with a degree of optimism. But that optimism has to be tempered by reality. Of the 24 teams in the Brazilian Championship, four will go down to the second division at the end of the championship in December. (AP)

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