The Golden Generation of Portuguese Football which won two world youth cups back at the beginning of the 1990s but never reached its full potential as seniors, is confident in a good performance in Japan/Korea.
Nicknamed the Brazilians of Europe, the bull’s blood colour of the Portuguese shirt can strike terror into any defender when Portugal is playing at its best. All too often, the team boils over after some incident, such as a disputed penalty, loses concentration and ends the tournament amid disgusting scenes, such as the exit from the European Championship in 2000, after having been beaten in the semi-final by France, when the referee was pushed and certain players spat at the linesman.
This time over, it is a fresh start for the team which meets Poland, South Korea and the United States in the first group, one Portugal is confident of winning.
Team Manager Antonio Oliveira, who won two Portuguese Championships in the late 1990s with FC Porto, announced that Portugal’s star players Luis Figo (FIFA Best Player of the Year) and Rui Costa, will both be match-fit after injury scares. “I have very secure information that there will not be any problems with those recovering from injury”, he stated.
Portuguese footballing idol Eusebio, who works in SL Benfica as a coach, declared that this Portuguese team can go far. “I am convinced that now, in this group, we can pass the first group and if we can do this, I believe we can go very far. The team will have its best ever classification in the history of its football, and can surpass Portugal 1966, when we came third”.
Fourth in the FIFA ranking, behind France, Argentina and Brazil, at an average age of 28 and an average height of 1.81m. the Portugal team has experience and physical power, as well as the skill for which it is renowned.
Players and clubs, Portuguese unless mentioned:
Goalkeepers: Nelson (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Ricardo (Boavista FC), Vitor Baia (FC Porto);
Defenders: Abel Xavier (Liverpool FC, England), Beto (SC Portugal), Caneira (SL Benfica), Fernando Couto (Lazio Roma, Italy), Frechaut (Boavista FC), Jorge Andrade (FC Porto), Jorge Costa (Charlton FC, England), Rui Jorge (SC Portugal);
Midfield Players: Capucho (FC Porto), Figo (Real Madrid, Spain), Paulo Bento (SC Portugal), Paulo Sousa (Espanol, Spain), Pedro Barbosa (SC Portugal), Petit (Boavista FC), Rui Costa (AC Milan, Italy), Sergio Conceicao (Inter Milan, Italy), Kenedy (SC Maritimo);
Forwards: Joao Pinto (SC Portugal), Nuno Gomes (Fiorentina, Italy), Pauleta (Bordeaux, France).
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru