Yesterday at the Maracana Stadium, his charges defeated Botafogo 3-1, for a convincing 4-1 overall aggregate win, that may help to lift some of the sadness the 59-year-old feels about departing from his beloved club.
“I’m not thinking about that at the moment because I live in happiness,” he says. “If I start imagining my premature exit, things will go to the other side and that’s not nice. I don’t want to talk about my departure, it was a very difficult decision and I don’t want to even think about it. It hurts. I’m just going around the corner and I’ll be back soon.”
This was Santana’s sixth Carioca title and it followed last week’s convincing 4-2 Copa Libertadores victory against CF America Mexico, where his players begged him to think about staying at the club.
In fact, there were also reports that Flamengo vice-president Kleber Leite tried to entice his coach with a better package, however, by that time Safa CEO already had Santana’s signature on a contract, and there was no possible way out.
But there are some doubts as to the exact date which Santana will arrive in South Africa.
Flamengo’s directors convinced Safa that it would be in their interests to keep Santana until the return match with America, which kicks off in Rio on Wednesday.
But with the club’s massive fan base already showing disdain for newly-appointed coach Geninho, whose side Atletico-MG suffered a humiliating 6-0 aggregate loss to Cruzeiro in the Campeonato Mineiro, the club may even try to prolong his stay until May 21 for the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores.
In Mexico, Santana was embarrassed when asked about the possibility of being in command of Flamengo until the end of the South American Champions League, and it remains to be seen exactly when he will begin trying to motivate Bafana for their important African Nations Cup qualifier against Nigeria on May 29.