Porto coach Conceicao rejects mental fatigue excuse

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group C - Olympiacos v FC Porto - Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece - December 9, 2020 FC Porto coach Sergio Conceicao reacts REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

(Reuters) - Porto coach Sergio Conceicao said his side cannot use mental fatigue as an excuse for their inconsistent form this season.

Porto were stunned by Braga in the second leg of their Portuguese Cup semi-final on Wednesday, losing 3-2 at home and 4-3 on aggregate, leading players and pundits to suggest mental exhaustion was a factor within the squad.

Conceicao, however, denied those claims, saying footballers live privileged lives.

"During these COVID times when so much is spoken about the pandemic, mental fatigue doesn't exist (for footballers)," he told a news conference.

"Mental fatigue is for people who are sick, or the families of those who are sick or dying.

"There are so many people who are finding it tough to pay their bills and put food on the table. That is where mental fortitude is required to not let things overwhelm you and let go.

"Right now, football - the players, coaches, directors are all well paid, living fantastic lives, appearing on television every day.

"We've got everything we could ever ask for, we have the privilege of doing what we love and being well paid for it."

Conceicao did concede, however, that injuries and physical fatigue are playing a part in their campaign, which has seen the Portuguese champions slide to third in the league, 10 points off table toppers Sporting Lisbon on 45 points.

"Physical fatigue, yes, that's a fact. Pepe played with a knock and hobbled off. Physically it's terribly draining because it's an abnormal season, but we need to get over that."

Porto travel to Juventus on Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. The Portuguese outfit hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg last month.

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Toby Davis)

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