It was all going so well for Luigi De Canio’s men on a sunny afternoon in Sicily but then his captain saw red, and Massimo Maccarone drew the home side level four minutes into second-half injury time.
Football is a cruel game and instead of finding themselves in the relative safety on mid-table, the Salentini lay second from bottom after a topsy-turvy afternoon in Palermo.
Birthday boy De Canio decided to start the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation bringing back crowd favourite Daniele Corvia into the lone striker’s position. Behind him was a supporting cast of Jeda, Ruben Olivera and Ignacio Piatti. Carlos Grossmuller and skipper Guillermo Giacomazzi anchored midfield and after eight minutes, the club’s inspirational captain put his side in front.
Things got better just after the interval when Corvia doubled his side’s advantage. Lecce were in dreamland but then came the backlash. On 53 minutes, Mauricio Pinilla pulled one back for the hosts and then with just nine minutes remaining, Giacomazzi picked up his second yellow card of the afternoon and headed for the dressing rooms.
It seemed as though De Canio’s men would hang on for the victory but with virtually the last kick of the game Maccarone pounced to level the contest. A dejected Corvia told the media afterwards that “I am very bitter. Today we gave a great performance against a very strong squad. This result will give us the belief that we can survive in the top-flight. On a personal level, I am delighted to get back on the score sheet but as I have said, very disappointed not to have picked up three points”.
Young defender Andrea Rispoli echoed those sentiments by declaring that “It was a fantastic effort by the squad today, we displayed great character on the field but it is hard to accept that we could not hold onto our lead. We hope to learn from today in our next game at home to Catania but this team is growing in confidence with every match. I would like to thank the coach for giving me the opportunity to play in this league”.
De Canio was his usual philosophical self in the post match press conference by commenting that “Today, Palermo and Lecce gave the public an entertaining game. My team has given a good account of themselves and we have displayed our qualities. True, we have regrets in conceding two a goal lead and we had chances to increase our lead to 3-0 during the match. The sending off of Giacomazzi gave our hosts a big boost but I have seen my team grow today and we take many positives from this performance”.
With prodigal son Javier Chevanton still on the treatment table, the team’s performance in Sicily did give all fans of the Salentini hope. It is still early days in the championship and the team looks to be growing with every game. With so many new signings in the team and language barriers that still need to broken down, De Canio now has a platform on which to build.
Next Sunday’s lunchtime home fixture against Sicily’s other major power Catania look set to be the biggest game of the season so far for the club from Puglia. October’s home games could be pivotal with Brescia also due to visit the Stadio Via del Mare. Along with a trip to Turin to face Juventus and a visit to the capital to entertain Roma making up the quartet of fixtures for the month, De Canio will look to take at least six points from these games.
There was good news last week for Algerian midfielder Djamel Mesbah who was called up to the national squad for the 2012 African Cup of Nations preliminary round game against the Central African Republic in Bangui. The 26-year-old looks set to win his fourth cap for his country.
There was more woe for the club’s youngsters as the Primavera side went down 1-0 in Ascoli. This was newly appointed Coach Guido Di Fabio’s second consecutive away defeat of the season and was not ideal preparation for next weekend’s local derby against Bari where he will be hoping for a victory to kick start his team’s season.