Portugal coach José Couceiro was relieved with the "last opportunity" his team have been given to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing after watching England's victory 2-0 against Serbia in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Nijmegen.
One more game
Couceiro's side therefore face a play-off match against Italy on Thursday at the same Goffert Stadion as England are not eligible for the Olympic football tournament and Couceiro told uefa.com: "We have one more game and it's still better than having nothing left to play for. We had always said that we wanted the Olympic Games qualification - although by getting to the semi-finals". Despite a 4-0 win against Israel on Saturday, Portugal finished third in Group A while their next opponents occupied the same position in Group B.
"Italy are a great team," said Couceiro. "I have liked them in this tournament. They are a different, more offensive Italy than we are used to seeing. Against us, it will be 50-50." He nevertheless showed some concern about Portugal's poor record against Italy at U21 level, conceding: "We usually don't win." Indeed, the last three times the teams have met in the knockout stages of this competition - in 1994, 1996 and 2004 - Italy have won both the match and the U21 title. "We are still disappointed by our elimination," Couceiro admitted. "The name of our opponents will, I hope, be enough motivation for the players. Italy are in the same state of mind as us and that's why I think it will be 50-50."
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