Portuguese star Nani didn’t start for the Lions during Saturday’s season opener against New York City FC, but his second-half appearance influenced Orlando City’s 2-2 draw against the Pigeons.
Nani entered the game in the 70th minute for Sebastián Méndez, and quickly helped set up the equalizing goal in the 75th minute when he played a ball down the left to Dom Dwyer, who then swung the ball to Tesho Akindele who scored to tie the game.
When asked how close he is start and be 100 percent ready, Nani said he needs a good week with the team to determine that.
“I think it’s not so far,” Nani told reporters. I think I need a very good week of training, and I think I’ll be able to start.”
The attacker was not present at Orlando City training for most of the week due to getting paperwork processed, which allowed him to play during Saturday’s season-opener at Orlando City stadium.
The Lions were down 2-0 by halftime, but were able to rally in the second-half, which was a great response, according to Nani.
“I think it was great the attitude of [the] players. We [started] the game very well. We were [playing] very good football. We showed on the pitch the confidence that we wanted to win the game. Of course, we conceded two goals and that can happen and we don’t want that to happen so often, but it was a great shoot from the opening.
“Of course, we react very well in the second half, so I think it’s fair for one point. We could win the game if probably there was a penalty on that challenge,” added Nani.
Orlando head coach James O’Connor said he didn’t see Nani and Dwyer, who’s been battling a calf injury, getting close to 30 minutes on Saturday.
But the scenario the team was in called for a difference maker.
“I think if I’m being honest I didn’t envision the two lads getting the minutes that they did,” O’Connor said. “But I knew in the back of my mind if we needed a goal or we needed something to change the game, then them two were going to go on.”
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