Bento seeks winning balance
New Portugal coach Paulo Bento will be under huge pressure to get his side's UEFA EURO 2012 Group H qualifying campaign back on track when they host Denmark tomorrow night.
Portugal's first two fixtures saw them play out an incredible 4-4 draw with Cyprus before losing 1-0 to Norway. That slow start cost Carlos Queiroz, who also oversaw a disappointing FIFA World Cup™ campaign in the summer, his job and former Sporting Lisbon boss Bento has been charged with turning their fortunes around.
Bento has included two new caps in his squad in the form of Toulouse midfielder Paulo Machado and Sporting full-back Joao Pereira, and is looking forward to the challenge ahead but warns his side they have no margin for error after such a poor start.
"We have to play with hot hearts and cool heads. There is no margin for error. We need to play with ambition, with some risk, but without losing balance," Bento said.
The new coach has also told his side they cannot expect Cristiano Ronaldo to always get them out of trouble, pointing out that the Real Madrid star cannot shoulder the nation's hopes on his own.
"We cannot think that because he is one of the world's top players, he can solve all the problems. We count on his talent... but we cannot burden him with the full responsibility, for that lies with me," Bento continued.
Tomorrow night's other Group H contest sees Norway travel to Cyprus looking for a third-straight win to start their campaign, having seen off Iceland and Portugal. But veteran coach Egil Olsen faces an anxious wait to see if Aston Villa striker John Carew will be fit.
The forward has been struggling with a knee injury, but is confident of playing some part in Larnaca. The 31-year-old told uefa.com: "I am confident I will be 100%. It is up to the coach if I play. I don't know this Cyprus team well, but I do know they are hard to beat on home soil. We have to be fully prepared."