Carlos Queiroz has hailed his players' fighting spirit after a battling performance in Bosnia-Herzegovina secured them a spot at South Africa 2010.

After scraping a 1-0 win in Lisbon at the weekend with a laboured showing on home turf, Queiroz's side upped their game to close out the qualifying play-off 2-0 on aggregate and book a ticket to next year's finals.

It was a performance that served response to Portugal's many critics after they had struggled in earlier qualifiers and Queiroz was delighted to see his men prove their worth.

"As I have always said, marathons only finish at the end, when the referee signals that the final match is over," he said. "The players are to be congratulated and deserve our applause for all they have done before we sealed our place.

"I also want to say a word for all those who believed in us. I am grateful for the support of all the people who have always believed we would succeed. Thank you all for your confidence.

"It was not here that the team won. We have been winning for a long time, only those who do not want to see the fighting spirit, delivery and dedication from the players can have doubts."

Portugal got off to a stuttering start when Queiroz first took charge and at one point FIFA World Cup™ qualification seemed a major doubt. But they managed to turn it around and 13 points from their last five qualifiers saw them beat Sweden to second spot.

Queiroz is delighted to have ensured they are in the pot for when the FIFA World Cup draw is made on 4 December but is refusing to start setting his side targets.

"Our next aim is to prepare the team to honour our country in the World Cup," he added. "Before anything else we have to think how to prepare the team well. We have to ensure they demand a lot of themselves.

"But the team spirit has been fantastic, brilliant, and this was the consequence of all the work that the team has put in. The most important thing is the team, the 'us' is what is important."

Queiroz might be reluctant to predict Portugal's chances of success next summer but others are more confident. Sporting striker Liedson believes he and his team-mates can complete the turnaround in form by returning from South Africa with the Jules Rimet trophy.

"Portugal are candidates for the trophy," he said. "We have great players and we made a statement with great pedigree and determination. This is a unique moment.

"It would have been unfair to all if Portugal were not in the World Cup. This is one of the great achievements of my career, but there will be more. Now is the time to enjoy it."