Scolari puts on a brave face to rally the troops

July 7, 2006

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is trying to rally his troops for Saturday's World Cup third-place play-off with Germany in Stuttgart.

Cristiano Ronaldo
GettyImages / BenRadfordCristiano Ronaldo is in tears at the end of the match

The Portuguese were beaten 1-0 by France in Wednesday's semi-final in Munich and thus failed to reach their first World Cup final.

Instead they must travel to Stuttgart in an attempt to try to equal the achievements of the 1966 team which, inspired by tournament top-scorer Eusebio, won the third-place play-off by beating the Soviet Union after losing to England in the semi-finals.

'I would rather have been playing in the final,' said Scolari, who in 2002 led his homeland Brazil to their fifth World Cup.

'But even if we have to recognise that we are only playing in a play-off match for third and fourth place we must be proud to have come so far.

'We will try to play a good game and it will be an encounter between two sides with coaches and players who respect each other,' said the Brazilian. 'We want to finish third.'

Scolari admitted he wanted his players to hold their heads high after the match in Munich, which was settled by Zinedine Zidane's 33rd-minute penalty, awarded for a foul on Thierry Henry by Ricardo Carvalho.

'We must be grateful to all our supporters who never tired in their backing for us,' said Scolari, who looks set to extend his contact with the national side.

'We are not going to let our heads drop because of this. We lost to a very good team and that's what football is like sometimes. Let's just thank those who supported us in Portugal and elsewhere in the world.

'We are proud and happy with our performances and it is a real pleasure to work with these players.'

Portugal were disgruntled at the performance of referee Jorge Larrionda who awarded the penalty but declined Portuguese appeals after Cristiano Ronaldo was pushed in the box.

Midfielder Costinha said: 'Games are not always won on the pitch.

'Unfortunately Portugal are still too small to fight against the powerful European structures. But our performances here must give us confidence in the future and pride in what we have achieved.

'We are determined to produce a good performance on Saturday.'