Since winning back-to-back world titles with the so-called Golden Generation at UAE 1989 and on home soil two years later, Portugal have had rather less to cheer about at FIFA U-20 World Cups. However, at the 2011 edition in Colombia, A Selecção das Quinas once again took centre stage by contesting a dramatic final with Brazil, the very opponent they beat to lift the title at home 20 years earlier. And while the South Americans would take the spoils in Bogota, Portugal’s stirring run to the final restored confidence to an age category that has provided the country with its greatest successes on the world stage.
Portugal punched their ticket for Turkey 2013 thanks to their third-placed finish in Group A at the 2012 UEFA European U-19 Championship in Estonia. Edgar Borges' side began the tournament’s final group phase with a convincing 3-0 defeat of the hosts, before drawing 3-3 with Spain, a result that sealed their qualification. Greece would prove too strong, however, in their final group game, where a 3-2 defeat denied the Lusitanians a semi-final berth. And while their final placing may not have matched pre-tournament expectations, some very good performances coupled with the most potent attack in continental qualifying (37 goals) have made them contenders for the title in Turkey.
Although the U-19 European Championship confirmed the talent of the team’s young stars, there could well be new additions to the squad ahead of the showpiece event in 2013. Coach Borges is continuing to call up new players both for training camps and preparatory matches in his quest for the ideal squad. Whoever makes the cut, their goal will be clear: to reclaim the title so nearly won in 2011, when they lost 3-2 to Brazil after extra time, and secure the country’s third world crown in the category.