“This is not lowering ambition. The ‘main round’ is very important, because it guarantees that we won’t have to play in the first qualifying play-off for the Mundial2023, which takes place in March, and it brings us closer to that competition. Or in other words, we’re going to play this European with a little thinking about the World Cup as well,” said the coach, at a press conference, shortly after having released the provisional list of the 20 called up.
The ‘heroes of the sea’ will compete for the seventh time in the European Championship, co-organized by Hungary and Slovakia, between 13 and 30 January, with games scheduled in Group B of the preliminary round against the Magyars, Iceland and the Netherlands, always in Budapest .
“After the first round, we will quickly establish another purpose and say that we want to improve our brand, which is sixth (achieved in 2020). If we want to achieve high performance, we have to be with a certain degree of dissatisfaction, knowing that the first four classified in the ‘main round’ will qualify directly for the Worlds. If we stay in the top 12, we’ll only go to the second play-off, which will be in April”, he stressed.
Portugal will compete in the fourth final phase in a row, after the European 2020, the Mundial2021 and the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games, but Paulo Jorge Pereira already aims to match the ‘handful’ of appearances in major tournaments achieved at the beginning of the century, with three Europeans (2000, 2002 and 2004) and two World Championships (2001 and 2003), the last of which was held on Portuguese soil.
“Basically, we’re always trying to find the best version of ourselves. The way we’re training reminds me of the state in which we entered the 2020 European Championship. As soon as I got to the stage, I saw all the gang with great desire “, noted.
Central Miguel Martins (Pick Szeged), pivot Tiago Rocha (Nancy), goalkeeper Gustavo Capdeville (Benfica) and full-back Alexandre Cavalcanti (Nantes) were included in the provisional 20-man squad for Euro2022, after having failed the first stage in Rio Maior, from December 27th to 30th, 2021, due to covid-19 infection.
“Honestly, it was great to have worked in Angola and Tunisia, as I’m a little used to the things that happen the next day and we have to adapt quickly. Here it’s been brutal. Every day there’s something different. Of course there will be national teams. which usually stand out, but nowadays the best will always be those who best adapt to the change that takes place over the course of the days”, he considered.
The formation of Paulo Jorge Pereira returned to work today without limitations in Rio Maior, after the new year, having available six players who line up abroad and seven who can debut in major competitions for national teams.
“I redid the initial call three times between December 20 and 22, 2021 and changed the training plan even more times. It was very tiring. One day at a time, but we are working very well. I’m sure they can count on us. I see these guys so eagerly and that sparkle in their eyes, which makes us even more willing to continue to excite everyone,” he said.
Given the unprecedented presence of the ‘quinas’ team in the Olympic tournament, played in the summer of 2021, Humberto Gomes and Aléxis Borges left, by technical option, while Pedro Portela, Luís Frade, André Gomes and João Ferraz missed the 2022 European Championship due to injury.
“Taking into account the available athletes, it’s the list I wanted. We lost two crazy people (André Gomes and Luís Frade), but we won others. I’ve known Martim (Costa) for many years and he gives us spectacular things in terms of individual tactics . I saw Daniel (Vieira) scoring 10 goals for Avanca against Benfica. Both have spectacular potential and we have to give them wings to fly and open the doors more open for them,” concluded Paulo Jorge Pereira.
The provisional lot will be reduced from 20 to 18 players until the trip to Switzerland, scheduled for January 6th, where Portugal will dispute the 49th Edition of the Yellow Cup Tournament, in Winterthur, between the 7th and the 9th, against Montenegro , Switzerland and Ukraine.