Portugal’s national team manager Paulo Pereira said Portugal needed to “surpass” to score points against France in a qualifying match for the 2020 European Championship in Austria, Norway, and Sweden.
After the victories in the start of Group 6, over Romania (21-13) and Lithuania (24-23), the Portuguese team occupy the second place, with four points, the same as the leaders France, who will face on Thursday, at 20:00 in Guimarães, and which, for the Portuguese coach, is “surely among the top three in the world” – was, for example, European champions in 2014 and worldwide in 2015 and 2017.
“We have to be focused on the details of the game, they have an answer for everything,” he told reporters after a training session on Tuesday in the multipurpose pavilion Minhota city, stage of the challenge.
The picker stressed that the opponent is strong to attack and is armed with a block of “excellent defenders,” “very large” and able to “occupy a lot of space,” but recalled that the 18 players who met for the double clash with the Gauls – Portugal plays in Strasbourg on Sunday – want to sign an “excellent performance”.
Paulo Pereira even added that the main Portuguese advantage in the antechamber of facing a team like France is that Portugal’s chance to win “will never pass through the heads of the French.”
Without a chance of having the injured Alexandre Cavalcanti, SL Benfica side, and Alfredo Quintana, goalkeeper of FC Porto, the coach said to trust the goalkeepers he has – ABC’s Humberto Gomes and Hugo Figueira, Benfica – and also in the “excellent defense” of the selection.
To qualify for the 2020 European, the first with 24 selections, Portugal need to get one of the top two places in Group 6 or to be one of the top four third-leaders of the eight qualifying groups.
With “great expectations” for what remains to play in the qualifying, the national selector said that any point in the double confrontation with France makes the way for the European “much shorter”, but admitted that, theoretically, the clearance will be decided in June, in the last two games against Romania and Lithuania.
Paulo Pereira, who, in addition to the Portuguese national team, trains the Romanians of CSM Bucharest, recalled that at this time of the season, it is not easy to lead a squad of handball, since “players are tired” in the face of many matches they have to play.
“Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to center the players. We have to manage the [effort] so they get to the game and they can compete at the highest level,” he explained.
One of the 18 squads for the games against France is Rui Silva, FC Porto’s central defender. Born in Guimarães, the 25-year-old said the national team has a sold-out pavilion (2,800 seats) to show he wants to return to a tournament he has not participated in since 2006 (Swiss European).