AFI Game of the Week: Brazil – Recife Pirates v. América Bulls Potiguares

In a key game in the race for the playoffs in Brazil’s Superliga, the Recife Pirates featuring running back Sanchez Holder and receiver Tulius Mota will play host to the América Bulls Potiguares with quarterback Brian Gessel.

Recife Pirates


América Bulls Potiguares

Estadio Alfitos
Recife, Pernambuco
2p local time


Above: Joe Small has been all over the field for the Bulls this season. Photo credit: Foto: Edmo Nathan

One spot for two teams in in a ‘’winner take all’’ scenario in Recife on Sunday.

One game for one spot. That is the scenarios on Sunday for the Recife Pirates and América Bulls Potiguares (of Natal). The team that wins advances to the playoffs as the number for seed in Conferencia Nordeste, and the loser begins making off season plans.

“We are doing whatever it takes,’’ said standout Bulls linebacker, Joe Small, about his teams’ mindset coming into the biggest game of their season.

Small, along with fellow linebacker, Aleff Alomedo, defensive lineman, João Henrique, corner, Igor Rogue, and rangy safety, João Octavio Pires will have quite the challenge in containing a Pirates offense that has been explosive at times this season.


Above: Bulls QB, Brian Gessel, has not shied away from leading his team into hostile environments this season. Sunday will be more of the same in Recife, with a playoff berth on the line. Photo Credit: Anderson Silva Fotografia

Import quarterback, Andrew Griffin leads that potent pirates attack and relies heavily on fellow import, running back, Sanchez Holder, and talented receiver, Tulius Mota.

“To win, we have to stop (Griffin) and (Holder),’’ said Bulls assistant, Moacir Fernandes Neto.

Defensively, the Pirates will need to contain the Bulls shifty quarterback, Brian Gessel, who has made a living of extending plays all season. For Gessel, the key to success is execution early in the game.


Above: Wide receiver, Tulius Mota, has been a key to the Pirates’ offensive success all season. Photo retrieved from Facebook page of Tulius Mota

‘’We had a good week of practice and we like our matchups vs the Pirates. We just know we need to get going early and not let up,’’ he said.

The keys to that early start, for Gessel and the Bulls, will likely be workhorse running back, Eric Ferreira and receiver Felipe Eric.

‘’We need to establish our run game and conver third downs,’’ added Neto.


Above: Anyone hoping for a chance to beat the Recife Pirates knows that they must contain the dynamic Sanchez Holder. Photo credit: Anderson Silva Fotografia.

Some might worry that the Bulls still don’t have their legs back after a double overtime thriller-of-a-win against the UFERSA Petroleiros, but Coach Neto says otherwise.

“The recovery after the double overtime was fine. We have studied our opponent and have a solid game plan and expect to perform well on Sunday,’’ he said.

With so much on the line, the Pirates expect a packed house on Sunday.

“We hope to put on a spectacular event,’’ said Pirates assistant, Rodrigo Azevedo.

Clayton Lovett has served football in Brasil in a variety of roles, including as the member of the coaching staff of two CBFA national champions (Cuiaba Arsenal 2010, 2012). Football is his hobby. Professionally, he is the founder of CS Educacional,