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Portuguese respectful but ready

Team focus: A nation on the rise, Portugal have high hopes for success in Chinese Taipei.

Improved quality
For all his own team's progression in recent years including qualification for this event and the 2005 UEFA European Futsal Championship finals in February, coach Orlando Duarte is well aware of the threat posed by Group D rivals Iran, Argentina and Cuba. Duarte said: "We have improved our quality but other countries have made many improvements as well. We are in the so-called 'group of death'."

Top opponents
In particular, it is the Iranians, the champions of Asia, who are causing most concern, especially having beaten Brazil and drawn with Ukraine in recent times. Duarte added: "Iran have a really strong team and they have a world-class player in Vahid Shamsaee." Of South American champions Argentina, he added "they defend very well and are very strong", while Cuba "are not easy opponents".

No excuses
Yet Duarte is upbeat about his side's chances, even though other nations have also had more time to prepare. He said: "I'd be more concerned if I were coach of the other teams. We have just started our work. It is not the ideal period to prepare for a World Championship but this won't be used as an excuse for any unsuccessful result. We will do our best. It will take some time to reach the ideal shape for our team, but our new players have given a good response."

Arnaldo blow
Duarte was forced to think again when naming his 14-man squad after losing Arnaldo to a serious knee injury having already earmarked him for a place in Chinese Taipei. Arnaldo will be out of action for six months but the injury has not dented Portugal's ambition.

Training stepped up
"We want to impress in the World Cup but the main goal is to qualify to the second stage of the competition", said Duarte. "We have a more mature team now, in great shape, with many young talents and they are now training for nine or ten hours per week instead of only three or four as in the past."

Good send-off
After their last training sessions in Rio Maior, Portugal left for their pre-tournament camp in Macau where they were to spend a week before heading on to Chinese Taipei. A week before departing the team were invited to the Portuguese parliament to be welcomed by its chairman Mota Amaral and Gilberto Madaíl, the head of the Portuguese Football Federation. The invitation, offered by the country's president was designed to offer full encouragement to the team before the finals.

Portugal squad
João Benedito, Sandro, Silvio, Ivan, Majó, Luís Silva, Leo, Marcelinho, Gonçalo, Rogerio Santos, Israel, Joel Queirós, André, Zézito.