The Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz is known for his cool rationality and theorising, qualities that have earned him the moniker The Professor.
After Portugal's cautious 0-0 draw against Ivory Coast in its Group G opener on Tuesday, Queiroz is under pressure to show against North Korea on Monday that he also has fire in his belly.
"In an opening game, you take fewer risks. You don't throw everything into attack," Queiroz said yesterday. "The second game will be much more straightforward: we have to make things happen ... we have to win to give ourselves a chance of progressing."
Striker Liedson said the squad understands that message. "We've been working hard on our scoring this week. We have to start putting the ball in the net," he told reporters after a training session that went longer than usual, at about two hours.
Queiroz has his full squad available for Portugal's assault on a North Korean back line that defended so stoutly against Brazil that it took the five-time World champions almost an hour to break the deadlock, before eventually winning 2-1.
The game in Cape Town could prove decisive for Portugal's ambitions in South Africa. It could also provide a tonic for an unsettled team that is ranked third in world but hasn't demonstrated the kind of polished football associated with that rating.
For Queiroz, a strong showing would help silence the doubters. His two-year tenure has brought questions about his calibre and suitability for the job.
Portugal's qualification for South Africa was a bumpy ride. Three 0-0 draws, including one at home against 10-man Albania, dropped the team to fifth in the group before it recovered to qualify through the playoffs. Queiroz also oversaw a 6-2 thrashing by Brazil in a friendly.
The constant gripe of fans and commentators has been that Portugal under Queiroz is too prudent, too wary going forward, and too ponderous. "Please think big ... Take risks! Do whatever it takes to win!" Portuguese daily paper Diario de Noticias urged Queiroz after the Ivory Coast draw. "If we have to go out of the World Cup early, at least let us leave with a clear conscience, having pushed ourselves to the limit".
Midfielder Deco, a seven-year veteran of the Portugal team, also grumbled about Queiroz's approach to that game, telling reporters the tactics and substitutions were "strange" and "not as good as they might have been".
Other dissenting voices noted that while Queiroz has had successes with youth teams and as an assistant coach, he has come up short when handed the top job. He is a former coach of Real Madrid and Sporting Lisbon but failed to win major trophies at either club.
Queiroz nurtured Portugal's so-called Golden Generation, which included former FIFA world player of the year Luis Figo, leading the country's under-20 team to consecutive world youth championship triumphs in 1989 and 1991. His coaching career has also included stints at teams in the United States, Japan and United Arab Emirates.
- More about:
- C And #244;te D'ivoire (ivory Coast)
- Higher Education
- University Of The Arts London