Luiz Felipe Scolari insists a bad result in Azerbaijan "would not be a tragedy" as Portugal look to force their way into the top two in a competitive Group A.
Respect for Azerbaijan
With his team third in the section, albeit with a game in hand on leaders Poland and Finland, defeat in Baku on Saturday could prove costly, but the Portugal coach said: "Other sides have struggled here because Azerbaijan have a strong team. If we cannot win, it would not be a tragedy. It will only mean that we lacked quality and that our opponents were better than us."
Serving a three-month touchline ban after incidents in September's home UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifier against Serbia, the Brazilian is confident his absence will not be too sorely felt on the pitch – with assistant Flávio Teixeira Murtosa set to man the dugout. "Murtosa and me have the same ideas so it won't be a problem," said Scolari.
The coach has also confirmed that Sporting Clube de Portugal midfielder Miguel Veloso, 21, will make his debut against the Azeris. "Miguel has shown a lot of quality, mainly in the middle. He can operate as full-back or central defender but he will play in midfield." Scolari is now waiting to learn if winger Simão will be able to play, conceding that "Simão's availability is a doubt".
Defender Ricardo Carvalho says Portugal are ready to make amends for three successive draws – against Armenia, Poland and Serbia – since the summer break. "We didn't do our homework properly at home and now we have to win away," he said. "The last few matches have made things difficult, but we are still in control of our fate. We have to be very focused. Murtosa will give us the correct instructions. Scolari plays an important role too and we are well prepared."
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