Down-and-out Portugal aims for glory
HindustanTimes.com acquaints you with Group D favourite for World Cup. FIFA Rewind : England, 1966 World Cup | Picsindia Updated: Jun 05, 2006 09:36 IST
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PORTUGAL - Odds 20/1
Group D> Angola, Iran, Mexico
Qualification> Winner of Europe Group 3
World Cup wins> None
A trivia to begin with: What happens when four unfancied, lowly rated teams are clubbed together in a single World Cup group?
It creates the least amount of interest among football fans! The only people feeling smug are shrewd employers seeing their work force get back at work.
|Portugal - 7th|
|Mexico - 4th|
|Angola - 57th|
|Iran - 23rd|
Group D - with Mexico, Portugal, Angola and Iran - looks a perfect fit for the above description.
Punters predict with reasonable confidence, that these four teams with the present bench-strength, have one-in-a zillion chance of earning a place in the last 16.
Even though, on paper, Portugal appear to be favourites, but there current unimpressive run belittles that notion. In World Cup qualifiers it drew 2-2 with Liechtenstein, then narrowly escaped what could have been a huge setback at home.
The only flicker of hope among Portugese fans and coach Felipe Scolari are two amazing talents - Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both have the attacking flair in their maneuvers and are well known for their antics. Their only test: Can they deliver at the big stage?
Mexico, like Portugal, look out of place in terms of performance. On Friday, it lost to a second-string Holland side, which even the Dutch coach described as a 'nice surprise'.
Angola and Iran are the teams that will be lurking in case Portugal or Mexico slip up.
Who to watch:Hugo Viana. The 23-year-old midfielder is the new face in the squad, and was named as the Young European Footballer of the Year.
Who's missing: Center back Jorge Andrade is out while recoverying from a knee injury, while 22-year-old Porto winger Ricardo Quaresma, formerly of Barcelona, was left out for the more experienced Simão Sabrosa and Nuno Gomes.
Portugal has held the upper hand against African minnows, winning the 2 games that have been played till now.
Mark your date: Portugal v Angola, June 12, 0030 IST
Iran has never faced Portugal in a World Cup game or a warm-up match till now.
Mark your date: Portugal v Iran, June 17, 1830 IST
Mexico has never faced Portugal in a World Cup game or a warm-up match till now.
Mark your date: Portugal v Mexico, June 21, 1930 IST
Group E would be reviewed tomorrow.