Miguel shrugs off Portugal underdog tag

July 4, 2006

Portugal have left their Marienfeld training base for the last time to head for Munich for their World Cup semi-final and full-back Miguel is confident that the team's next destination will be Berlin rather than Stuttgart.

Miguel concedes that Luiz Felipe Scolari's side who, unlike their coach, are the only remaining semi-finalists never to have won the World Cup, are rated the underdogs for the match with Raymond Domenech's France tomorrow.

But, rather than travel on Thursday to Stuttgart for a third-place play-off, Miguel believes that the Portuguese could go to the capital for a final meeting on Sunday with either Italy or Germany.

'I don't want to appear over-confident but I want to say that we can beat France because our squad is capable of doing so,' said Miguel on Monday as the Portuguese players prepared to leave the Hotel Klosterpforte for the last time.

Portugal have had gruelling knockout matches with Holland and England but Miguel is confident that they can still go head to head with a France team that has been inspired by the soon-to-retire Zinedine Zidane.

He added: 'The last two games have been enormously tiring but I can guarantee we are prepared for Wednesday's match, which will be very difficult.'

It is 40 years since Portugal, then inspired by tournament top scorer Eusebio, reached a World Cup semi-final and that, Miguel believes, will give his team an extra dose of energy.

He said: 'It's a long time since Portugal reached this round of a World Cup so our desire will help us overcome any tiredness. This is a very special moment for us, and all the Portuguese people, so we don't want to disappoint them and ourselves.

'We have reached this round, we know our worth. On Wednesday we have to do our best so our consciences rest well even if things go against us.'

Miguel, who last season played with Valencia, has been linked with AC Milan and Barcelona but insists he has tunnel vision - the tunnel in question being the one at Berlin's Olympic Stadium that will stage Sunday's final.

'I know there have been things in the paper but at this moment it's the least important thing,' said the full-back.

'We are with the national team and all that is on our minds is to get to the World Cup final. I am only thinking of the World Cup and, while it's good to know that people are interested, at the moment I don't want to know.'

Meanwhile, Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) president Gilberto Madail has indicated that press reports that Scolari has agreed a two-year contract extension are premature.

However, the supremo added that an announcement could come soon, saying the Portuguese press would be the first to know.

Portugal must do without the suspended Petit against France but can welcome back Deco and Costinha who both missed the quarter-final victory over England.