Considering they reached the UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 final, it was a slight disappointment for Portugal to exit both the 2012 edition and last year's FIFA Futsal World Cup in the last eight.
Coach Jorge Braz leads his side again in UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 main round Group 5 in Serbia between Wednesday and Saturday, where they meet the hosts, Poland and Greece. He told UEFA.com they want to win the section, qualify outright and so avoid the need for a play-off ahead of next year's finals in Antwerp.
UEFA.com: How does your team look ahead of qualifying?
Jorge Braz: The World Cup is over and a new cycle has begun, but it's about reformulating and readjusting a couple of things. We've already had two training camps which were extremely interesting – they went well – so now we have to prepare hard despite having only a short period. We need to prepare for our three matches because we want to be in Belgium in 2014.
UEFA.com: What do you think of your group opponents?
Braz: I had the chance to watch Greece in the preliminary round. They will be three different matches, all of them difficult. Greece have developed quite a lot, they are organised and know what they are doing. Poland we played in January in a friendly. I think they have taken a step forward in terms of game organisation.
And Serbia are a team with a lot of individual talent, who play strong physical football and above all are used to being at final tournaments. They have been at the World Cup, the European Championship, so they're a team that will certainly want to be there again. But we will do everything to prevent that, because we want to be there too – and to guarantee this month a passport to Belgium.
UEFA.com: You went out in the quarter-finals in 2012. What do you need to improve for next year?
Braz: Learning to compete, and understanding that you have to do certain things in a competitive context. We need to learn to compete, because we don't lack quality, we don't lack organisational skills, and we also have talent – but sometimes it's different to get to a certain moment and understand that it's in those 40 minutes you have to show that quality. Sometimes you don't even need the quality, you just need to compete, so we want to get through this round. We need to take that step forward.
UEFA.com: How have the squad improved since you took over in 2010?
Braz: We've improved quite a lot in some cases. Although we failed again in the World Cup, I feel we are ready to try to take that next step.
UEFA.com: What would it mean for the country, for Portugal, to win a big tournament?
Braz: All major titles and tournament successes will raise your profile and result in a lot more participation. That's obvious and normal in any sport.
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