Portugal coach Paulo Bento said on Wednesday he is confident his side can qualify for the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals from a 'group of death' that also includes former champions Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Bento, who at 42 will be the youngest coach at the European championship, said his side were capable of matching any of the teams at the finals despite making heavy weather of qualifying, where they had to come through a play-off. "Our target is to reach the quarter-finals first of all," said Bento, who replaced Carlos Queiroz as coach in September 2010 after a disappointing start to Portugal's qualifying campaign.
"After that we we will take it match by match. It is a very strong group but a balanced one. I think that the team are capable of getting the measure of any opponent."
Bento also said there would be no extra pressure on the side's star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, to show his best form at a major finals. "I have stated for some time now that Ronaldo cannot and must not resolve all the problems of the side. For me it makes no sense whatsoever," said Bento. "I do not believe that he has to win a major title in order to be acknowledged as one of the best Portuguese players, let alone in the world."
Bento, who as a club coach guided Sporting Lisbon to two Portuguese Cups, said he would name his 23-man squad for the tournament on 14 May. "There will be some players in the squad who did not play in the qualifiers," he said. "I have not totally made my mind up but there is a core of players who we want to keep faith with."
The squad will leave for its finals base of Opalenica, in the west of Poland, on 4 June after a training camp in central Portugal. Their first match at the finals is against Germany on 9 June in Lviv, followed by Denmark, who edged them in their qualifying group, at the same venue on the 13th. Portugal round off their group matches against the Dutch on the 17th in Kharkiv.