DURBAN - If, as is often said, good
defence does indeed win World Cups then Portugal coach Carlos
Queiroz has every reason to be delighted with Friday's goalless
stalemate with Brazil that secured their passage to the last 16.
However much the ill-tempered encounter disappointed the
thousands in the stadium and millions watching on television,
Queiroz paid tribute to the defensive strength that prevented
Brazil scoring in a group game for the first time in 32 years.
The world might desire the attacking endeavour that saw
Cristiano Ronaldo and his team mates put seven goals past North
Korea in their second group match, but for Queiroz the reality
of this World Cup sometimes dicates a more combative approach.
"When we play against a team like Brazil, with so many
strong, beautiful and fantastic players, you need to be on top
of your fighting skills, your concentration, because if you
don't do that you don't have chances to win," he said.
Semi-finalists in Germany four years ago, Portugal were
considered to have modest expectations at Africa's first World
Cup and, having successfully negotiated a tricky group, they
next face European champions Spain.
Although Queiroz was unaware of Portugal's next opponents
when he spoke after the Durban match, he said enough to suggest
their approach to the clash with their Iberian neighbours would
be similar to the gameplan for Brazil.
"All teams are very well organised and some of them also
have the great advantage of having world class players (who)
could be decisive in scoring that winning goal," he said.
"So we have to look at each game in a separate way, in a
Portugal are unbeaten since their 6-2 loss to Brazil in November
2008, a friendly Queiroz said had taught his team an object
lesson in concentration and commitment they had put into
practice on Friday.
They have also conceded goals in only four games out of
their last 26, an impressive statistic even if their recent
opponents have included Cape Verde, Malta and China.
Queiroz, however often he trots out the statistic, has been
around at the top of the game long enough not to put too much
faith in such records.
"They might build up our confidence a little bit, but we
can't go into the round of 16 simply with reputation and
statistics. Our players need to deliver the goods."
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