The match against Greece will be Rui Jorge’s 100th as an Under-21 manager — the journey began in November 2010 — being Europe’s longest-serving national Under-21 coach, during from which he won four qualifications for the final stages of the European Championships in the category (2015, 2017, 2021 and 2023), with a presence at the 2016 Olympic Games.
“Of course it’s good, it’s a sign of continuity, it’s a number that reflects a longevity that I like and that apparently pleased the Federation [Portuguesa de Futebol]”, he said, during the press conference, in the auditorium of the Estádio Municipal de Braga, in anticipation of the reception in Greece, which closes group D of the qualifying phase for Euro2023 .
With 72 wins, 15 draws and 12 defeats in 99 appearances against the Under-21s, Rui Jorge admitted that “the balance is good”, but noted that his “goal is always different”.
“It’s not the results, but the path we have to take and the tasks we have to accomplish, and then the results appear,” he said.
Rui Jorge says he does not think about training in a club and says he is “fulfilled” in the position he occupies and in what he does.
“It gives me and my technical team a great pleasure to take care of these groups during these 12 years, players who have passed through here, who have left a legacy of quality of play and behavior , and I feel satisfied to lead this group and to be able to see great players with enormous talent, who today are the pinnacle of world football,” he said.
Left-back Rafael Rodrigues felt on Thursday that Portugal were a candidate to win the European Under-21 Football Championship in 2023, and Rui Jorge was happy with the youngster’s ambition, but refused “to give to this petition of candidates or favorites”. .
“Rafael is new to space, you can see [risos]. I think it’s good that he shows that ambition, but I think it’s even better that he shows it in every training session. Think what you want, but what I want from Rafael and everyone else is that in every training session, in every lecture and observation that they make of their opponents, they pay attention and manage to give the best of themselves. If they do it and the coach helps, we can climb the steps to reach an area which I know is very difficult to access,” he said.
Portugal has already qualified for the 2023 European Championship in the category and closes Group D, which will finish in first place on Saturday by receiving Greece in Barcelos, but Rui Jorge assures that the preparation is the same as n any game.
“We prepared with dedication, dedication and enthusiasm, so they could show all the quality they have, and that’s what I felt on the pitch. Just yesterday [quinta-feira], I found the intensity that several players, who could be on vacation, put into training very interesting. For those leading a group, it’s rewarding and a good sign,” he said.
The coach said he expected a 5x3x2 in Greece, without changing his way of playing.
“We will want to dominate the game. In the tie for second place, they have an advantage over Iceland if they get a point [sábado], so I don’t think they’re going to change the way they play. I really hope the kind of game that was there [vitória por 4-0]. If they can move the ball quickly, we will have difficulties in width, but it is a battle that will have to be won,” he said.
Rui Jorge said he’s not worried about possibly losing players to the A team.
“It doesn’t bother me, I came prepared and I got used to it. For example, today we have the case of Zé Carlos demonstrating his potential and it happened because Vitinha went up one step. level and made room for another great player, who, on the other hand, couldn’t be there. Luckily, in terms of the quantity of quality players, we are much better than 12 years ago.” he declared.
The coach also hailed the investment Portuguese clubs are making in training, noting that increasing the range of quality players available to the national teams “has a lot to do with it”.
“We appreciate and drink what clubs do and how they are structured,” he said.
In this qualifying phase, Portugal have eight wins and a draw, 39 goals scored (best attack of all groups so far) and two conceded (best defense, tied with Belgium and France).
Portugal, ranked first, with 25 points, and Greece, second, with 17, will face off from 8:15 p.m. on Saturday at the Estádio Cidade in Barcelos, a match which will be refereed by Englishman David Coote.
gys // VR