With just seconds remaining in their 13th qualification game, Portugal secured their first-ever spot at a FIFA Women’s World Cup. No team traveled to Australia and New Zealand having played as many games. After 10 games and finishing second in the group stage behind Germany, followed by victories over Belgium and Iceland. Carole Costa’s penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time of the Intercontinental playoff with Cameroon guaranteed qualifying. The team’s greatest accomplishment and the primary indicator of the growth of Portuguese women’s football is qualification. The first participation in the women’s Euros in 2017 and 2022. The first-ever journey to the grandest stage ever was made as a result.
Seven members of the World Cup team have 100 or more caps. Portugal’s development has been centered around a core group of players who have traveled this path together for many years. They are accompanied by a number of individuals with worldwide experience as well as some fresh faces. Portugal frequently employs a 4-4-2 (diamond) or 4-3-3 formation and strives to develop in order to compete at the top level. Portugal has players that are familiar with one another. The team’s key strength is cohesiveness, or the sense of unity that has allowed them to overcome obstacles.
When he assumed control of the women’s national team, Francisco Neto was 32. He has taken Portugal to big tournaments for the first time in nine years, capitalizing on the current growth of the sport. At the age of 20, Neto started his coaching career. He worked with younger teams and served as the technical coordinator. Neto completed his coaching training with one of the top grades on the course, beating out Sérgio Conceiço, the current coach of Porto, for instance. Although Neto has extended his contract until 2027, he is currently focusing on the World Cup and developing strategies for handling powerful teams like the USA and the Netherlands.
Tatiana Pinto, a midfielder who is 29 years old and in the prime of her career, received the Player of the Match award for the playoff that advanced Portugal to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Pinto played alongside males until she was in her teens. Like many of her generation, because there were no female youth teams. She spent time with Sand in Germany and Bristol City before spending five seasons at Sporting before moving to Levante in 2021. The explosive midfielder had a standout campaign last year for a squad that placed third in the Spanish league, scoring 12 goals and providing three assists.
Kika Nazareth of Benfica is already more than simply an exciting prospect. She is incredibly talented, and creative, and has all the skills needed to become Portugal’s next major star at the age of 20. She participated in 10 games throughout the qualification campaign, starting six of them, and she scored three goals.
The player with the most caps for Portugal, Ana Borges, spent three seasons with Chelsea, where she won the WSL and the FA Cup, before going back to her native Portugal to play for Sporting. During his second stint with the Blues, José Mourinho visited London and gave her some guidance.
State of Football
The attendance record for a women’s game in Portugal was broken in March when 27,211. Ten years ago, that would have been unimaginable. Another significant step has been taken in the development of women’s football, which has been aided by the Portuguese FA’s funding and the participation of some of the top teams, like Sporting, Benfica, and Braga. With games being televised on the FA channel, a stronger domestic league that was introduced in 2016 brought back some of the finest Portuguese players and increased public interest.
Neto describes the team’s objective in this manner. Portugal wants to travel to Australia, where the round of 16, rather than just remaining in Group E’s New Zealand. Portugal is ranked 21st in the FIFA rankings. To do that in such a competitive group would be a remarkable achievement. The most practical goal is third place after the team’s group-stage result of fourth in the last two Euros.
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