After their narrow loss to England in their last Euro 2017 match, we spoke to Portugal boss Francisco Neto who was left with nothing but pride in his team after their came within a hairs’ width of progressing to the knock-outs.
Growing into the tournament
After a stilted performance against Spain, Portugal found a calm win over Scotland in their second group game, their third a tight loss to England, bowing out in third Neto was full of praise for his team.
“I’m very proud of the girls, as the performances have been fantastic during the tournament. We didn’t start with a good first-half against Spain but after that we grew every game and I’m just very proud with what we did."
He added: "And for our last game; we can’t forget that England is a high ranked team, the girls deserved a little more – I believe that a draw would have been a fairer result for us.”
A man who’s overseen a boom in the national team, Neto’s vision remains for his players to play with their hearts for their home,
“I want them to play like they played today [against England], we’re not a big country, we have a few players and we have to be proud in our country and be together as a team. All the time we try to get the very best out of the girls, get them playing with their hearts so they bring everything they have and they fight for the country and I’m very proud every time they do.”
A team on the up
With more and more of A Selecção das Quinas playing outside of Portugal, Neto only sees the benefits of his players getting to play in professional environments.
“It’s perfect, what’s important for the group – all the girls – is that they need to be in a championship that is good, so for us it’s perfect that the girls have good competitions, if it’s outside the country it’s not a problem. If they can be professional, they can work every day and they’ll get better for themselves and for us.”
With the Euros over for them, Neto laughed when asked if it was too soon to be thinking about their World Cup qualifying campaign.
“It’s too far away, of course we have Belgium and Italy and they both performed very well during the tournament and it will be very difficult but for now we want to rest a little first and then start thinking about that.”
With a modest team and pre-tournament FIFA ranking of #38, it may surprise many to learn that the Portuguese women’s team benefits from the same conditions as the men’s side.
“The conditions are perfect, we work in the same place as the men, we have the same pitch, the same condition, everything is the same; our federation gives us everything we need.”