Bento springs surprise in Portugal squad
Portugal coach Paulo Bento sprang a surprise on Monday when he unveiled his 23-man squad for UEFA EURO 2012 by including Sporting Braga duo Custodio Castro and Miguel Lopes.
Custodio, a powerful defensive midfielder aged 28, and 25-year-old right-back Lopes got the nod ahead of Besiktas midfielder Manuel Fernandes and Real Betis defender Nelson because of their impressive performances this season as Braga finished third in the league.
"Custodio is a completely different style of player from our other midfielders, in terms of positioning and especially in the air," said Bento, who rescued Portugal's qualifying campaign after replacing Carlos Queiroz in September 2010.
"Miguel Lopes also had a good end to the season with his club, and we want to take a player with us who is capable of playing on the right as well as the left," added the 42-year-old, who has been rewarded with a new contract taking him to 2014.
Also included in the squad is 20-year-old Benfica forward Nelson Oliveira, who made his international debut in a friendly in February, while the team will be captained by Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
There is no place, however, for either Ronaldo's Real team-mate Ricardo Carvalho, the veteran centre-back, or Chelsea right-back Jose Bosingwa, who have both fallen out with the disciplinarian coach.
The Portuguese - yet to win the title, although they were finalists on home soil in 2004 - will leave for their base camp in the western Polish town of Opalenica on 4 June after a training camp in Obidos, Portugal.
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (CFR-Cluj/ROM)
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit Saint-Petersburg/RUS), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid/ESP), Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Pepe (Real Madrid/ESP), Ricardo Costa (Valencia/ESP), Rolando (FC Porto), Miguel Lopes (Sporting Braga)
Midfielders: Carlos Martins (Granada/ESP), Joao Moutinho (FC Porto), Custodio (Sporting Braga), Miguel Veloso (Genoa/ITA), Raul Meireles (Chelsea/ENG), Ruben Micael (Real Zaragoza/ESP)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/ESP), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas/TUR), Helder Postiga (Real Zaragoza/ESP), Nani (Manchester United/ENG), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas/TUR), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto)