Soccer-Leading Roma in derby against Lazio is a privilege - Mourinho

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - AS Roma v Udinese - Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy - September 23, 2021 AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho reacts REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

ROME (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho described the opportunity to coach AS Roma in one of European football’s fiercest derby matches as a privilege on Saturday, the day before his side face rivals Lazio in Serie A.

Sunday's Rome derby, one of the most hotly anticipated fixtures in the Italian football calendar, will mark the first experience of the clash for Mourinho and his Lazio counterpart Maurizio Sarri.

"I like rivalries, it is a privilege to face a new derby and I will be richer for this experience," Mourinho told a news conference.

"Beyond this significance, I want the team to have more ambition than winning a derby, it is not our only objective this season."

Mourinho suffered his first defeat as Roma coach last weekend against Hellas Verona, but his team responded with a 1-0 win against Udinese on Thursday.

They head into Sunday’s derby four points clear of Lazio, who are without a win in four matches in all competitions.

"It is a great match to play and prepare for. I expect my team to play to win, even if we know that we can’t always do that," Mourinho said.

"Tomorrow we face a team with the same ambitions as us, but I want the same attitude and if we do not win, I want to leave the pitch feeling that we gave everything."

Roma suffered a blow in stoppage time against Udinese when captain Lorenzo Pellegrini was sent off by referee Antonio Rapuano for a second yellow card, a decision that left Mourinho frustrated.

"What can I do, go and argue with the referee, who would send me off and I miss the derby? I had to control my frustration," said the Portuguese.

"I do not go looking for arguments. I respect people. Rapuano screwed up because he is young, he will improve."

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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