Queiroz leading next Portuguese generation (Group G team profile)June 1st, 2010 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS
Madrid/Lisbon, June 1 (DPA) The likes of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Fernando Couto were coined Portugal’s “Golden Generation”. Now the man in charge of developing that group hopes to lead Portugal’s next generation to glory at the 2010 World Cup.
The Mozambican-born coach Carlos Queiroz was the mastermind to Portugal winning consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship crowns in 1989 and 1991 with those superstars. Those stars have hung up their Seleccao das Quinas boots since reaching the Euro 2004 final and the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup.
Portugal’s hopes now rely upon the next generation of stars, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and the Brazilian-born trio of Deco, Pepe and Liedson.
“A lot of the players in the Portugal squad in 2006 are no longer part of the set-up. So we’ve got a lot of players who’ll be playing in their first major competition. I think that the quality is just as high, though we don’t have the same level of experience we had in 2006,” Chelsea midfielder Deco told the FIFA website recently.
And just like Deco, Ronaldo and company hope to break out of the “Golden” shadows of Luis Figo and company. The same goes for Queiroz, who must follow up the successful run of Luiz Felipe Scolari, who left Portugal after reaching the quarter-finals at Euro 2008.
“This will be Queiroz’s first big competition at the helm. But he’s an excellent coach who’ll have a very good squad of players at his disposal. That’s why I think we’ve got all the necessary ingredients to be successful,” Deco added.
Just how successful should be clear straight away in the first round as Portugal were drawn into the fascinating Group G with five-time champions Brazil, up-start African side Ivory Coast and relative unknowns North Korea.
Deco said the Portuguese cannot be billed as one of the favourites at South Africa 2010.
“The favourites are those national teams with a World Cup pedigree, something that Portugal, who have never won the trophy, doesn’t have. So we can’t be considered among the favourites. That said, we do have a team boasting plenty of quality with great players and which can go a long way at the finals,” said Deco.
Portugal, whose best showing in their previous four World Cup appearances was third place in 1966, struggled in qualifying for South Africa.
After just one victory in their first five Group 1 matches, Portugal reeled off four victories and a draw at group winners Denmark to finish second and reach the playoffs.
Queiroz was without the injured Ronaldo for the playoffs against unfancied Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the Portuguese defence kept the high-scoring Balkan side scoreless in both legs - for a comfortable 2-0 aggregate victory.
Now Queiroz, Ronaldo and Deco can focus on the World Cup, and stepping out of “Golden” shadows of Portugal’s past.
The coach: Carlos Queiroz, 57, will go to South Africa with valuable local knowledge, having been the Bafana Bafana coach from 2000 to 2002 (he guided them to the 2002 World Cup finals but was controversially sacked beforehand).
The Mozambican-born coach is vastly experienced, having coached in many different countries and leagues. But his first spell in charge of Portugal (1991-1993) was not a success, and he does not enjoy the same popularity and respect as the much-missed Luiz Felipe Scolari. The problems encountered on the road to South Africa, and his inconsistency regarding team selection and tactics, have not helped to improve his reputation and image in the eyes of the Portugal fans.
The star: Cristiano Ronaldo, 25 has all of the attributes needed to be the personality of the tournament: charisma, star quality, pace, power, vision, imagination - and an uncanny eye for goal. He was the revelation of Euro 2004, and one of the stars of the 2006 World Cup, though by Euro 2008 his dodgy right ankle was beginning to trouble him.
That ankle was operated upon in July 2008 but was badly sprained in September playing for Real Madrid against Olympique Marseile. He also missed the playoffs against Bosnia. Queiroz and the whole of Portugal are praying that he avoids further ankle trouble before June.
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Tags: carlos queiroz, championship crowns, euro 2004, euro 2008, fernando couto, fifa world youth championship, golden generation, golden shadows, ivory coast, luis figo, luiz felipe scolari, mozambican, necessary ingredients, quarter finals, relative unknowns, rui costa, south africa 2010, team profile, time champions, world youth championship