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Fernandes to phone a friend

Published: Sunday 17 June 2007, 7.02CET
Manuel Fernandes said he was going to be calling a friend in the England squad to ask a favour as Portugal wait to see if their Olympic dream is over.
by Simon Hart
from Groningen

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Published: Sunday 17 June 2007, 7.02CET

Fernandes to phone a friend

Manuel Fernandes said he was going to be calling a friend in the England squad to ask a favour as Portugal wait to see if their Olympic dream is over.

Midfielder Manuel Fernandes says he is going to call a friend for a favour as Portugal wait to see whether or not their Olympic dream is over.

Hopes hang on England
Portugal's hopes of progress in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship ended on Saturday when, despite beating Israel 4-0, they were consigned to third place in Group A by Belgium's draw with the Netherlands. However, their Olympic aspirations remain alive, albeit hanging on England securing second place in Group B – in which case they would play off against the third-placed side in the other section for the fourth and final European ticket to Beijing.

Text messages
Fernandes, who spent the second half of 2006/07 on loan at Everton FC from SL Benfica, is backing England to help the Portuguese by beating Serbia on Sunday – and says he will be speaking to his friend in Stuart Pearce's squad, Everton striker James Vaughan. "I have been talking to James Vaughan by text message and I am going to ask him to win the game. Let's hope so," Fernandes told "I hope England can win against Serbia but it is not going to be easy. Everyone thinks Serbia are already in the semi-finals so it will be easy for England, but I don't think so.

Olympic goal
"But still, England have a really good team and I think they are going to win and go to the semi-finals and help us in a way," he added. "The first thing we said when we came here was we wanted to go to the Olympic Games, so we are going to try to do that." Fernandes opened the floodgates against Israel by driving in the first Portugal goal after 37 minutes yet he admits their dominant display came too late to rescue their prospects in the competition. "I am happy most of all because it was the first goal and after the first goal, everything went how we wanted it to go," he said.

Too little, too late
"Today was the performance that this team can do all the time - we proved we are a great team," added the 21-year-old. "We won this game but we knew we were depending on the other game so it was difficult for us. I won't lie to you, when I saw 2-2 [on the scoreboard] I got a little bit down. I thought they were going to stay 2-1 but then they made it 2-2. But we didn't miss out on the semi-finals today - we missed out in the other games."

Last updated: 17/06/07 17.16CET

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