Diário As Beiras – Fernando Santos highlights “very strong” Serbia in the race for the 2022 World Cup

Fernando Santos announces calls for Portugal to the League of Nations

Photo – Lusa / José Carlos Coelho

O national coach today considered that “it is important to prepare well” the tabulation phase for the World Cup from Qatar, in which Portugal will face the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan and the “very strong” Serbia.

After the draw, in Zurich, Switzerland, without representatives from the federations due to the covid-19 pandemic, the 'quinas' team was included in Group A and, despite having 'caught' the Balkan team, avoided selections such as Austria, Switzerland and Poland.

“The important thing is to prepare well and see what the timetable is. It is one thing to see who the opponents are and another is the schedule, because we are already playing in March ”, he began by mentioning Fernando Santos, in statements to Channel 11, adding, however, that “the draws are not to analyze, but to play and win”.

The experienced coach, 66, stressed that the draw is "very theoretical" and recalls the difficulties that Portugal had, precisely in front of the Serbs, in the qualifying phase for Euro2020, postponed to 2021 due to the covid-19 pandemic.

“We started qualifying for the European championship with Serbia and, at the start, we were going to win and then we drew. With Ukraine too and things have become difficult ”, recalled Fernando Santos.

The selection of Serbia is, for the coach, a “very strong” team, which should be better placed in the ‘ranking’.

“If we look at Serbia's squad and players, as well as Croatia, Serbia has all elite players. If we run the best championships, there is always a set of players of the highest quality. If we look at the players, there are many teams with higher rankings that do not have the quality of the Serbia team players. He is a very strong opponent ”, he analyzed.

With Fernando Santos in charge, teams like the Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan have never crossed paths with Portugal, a situation that will motivate an “analysis by other means”. Serbia were opponents on four occasions and Luxembourg three, with both being included in the qualifying group for Euro2020.

However, the trip to Azerbaijan “has to happen early”, according to the coach, since “it can mess up the logistics issues, which are very important”.

In addition, Fernando Santos makes clear how Portugal has to approach qualifying: “If we want to be candidates to be world champions, we have to assume that we have to go through this group stage, respecting all opponents. To think that it is already won, would be our biggest mistake. ”

In today's draw, the 55 selections were distributed in six pots and drawn in five groups with six teams each and in another five with five selections.

The winner of each of the 10 groups will qualify directly for the finals, while the runners-up will play in the qualification play-offs, to which will be joined by two winners of League of Nations groups who are unable to qualify. directly to the Mundial2022 or to the play-offs.

From these 12 teams present in the 'play-offs', which will be played in March 2022, the last three European representatives will come out at the Mundial2022. Qualification will take place between March and November 2021.

The World Cup in Qatar will take place outside the usual period between June and July, due to the strong heat in that country, with the 2022 competition to be scheduled for the dates between November 21 and December 18.

Portugal participated in seven World Championships, a competition in which it has been present consecutively since 2002, in South Korea and Japan, and later in Germany (2006), South Africa (2010), Brazil (2014) and Russia (2018) .

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