Football

Bento won't resign if Portugal bow out

Portugal coach Bento says he will not resign if team exit World Cup

GROUP G

PORTUGAL v GHANA

(Tonight, 11.59pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)

Portugal coach Paulo Bento insisted this morning (Singapore time) that he would not resign if his country becomes the latest European nation to crash out of the World Cup.

Portugal play Ghana in Group G tonight, knowing they need a big win to even maintain their slight hopes of stopping Germany and United States from taking the two qualifying spots for the last 16.

"Whatever happens in tomorrow's match, I will not resign from my post as coach," Bento said.

"That is not my intention. It is not the intention of the federation... and its president. With that, everything has been said."

Portugal's 4-0 hammering by Germany, and the narrow 2-2 draw with United States have increased pressure on the team, which rely heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bento admitted that the team face "an extremely complicated situation" going into tonight's match.

"We have to win, and then we will see," said Bento, who added that he did not believe Germany and the US would deliberately play for a draw.

That result would squeeze Portugal out, no matter the score in the Portugal-Ghana match.

"There is no place for fear about the results," he said, calling for a show of "dignity" by all sides.

"We have a match to play, the US and Germany have a match to play."

"We must choose a strategy against a team (Ghana) that are technically advanced and physically very strong, with players who are fast on the counter-attack; a team who are going to... try to qualify."

HOT-HEAD

Meanwhile, Portugal defender Pepe denied suggestions that he was a hot-head, and said it was still possible for this team to get through to the last 16.

Portugal need a convincing win over Ghana to stand any chance of making it through to the next round, as well as a favourable result in the other match between Germany and the US.

Pepe was undeterred by the size of the challenge for his side, and said: "I believe in miracles. I think it is possible for us. We know it's difficult but we have to fight.

"We have to play our game regardless of what happens in the Germany v US match, we are going to play our game, get the win... and bring honour to the Portugal jersey."

The Real Madrid defender is available for selection against the Africans, having missed last Sunday's 2-2 draw with the US after being sent off for a headbutt on Thomas Mueller in the opening loss against Germany.

VOLATILE

His reaction was the latest indiscretion in a long career of volatile moments, but the Brazilian-born 31-year-old denied he lost control in the 37th minute of the Germany clash.

"Never a hot head," he said, correcting a journalist who had dared to ask about the incident.

"I feel sad because I put my team in a complicated situation. It was a very harsh penalty, there was a penalty we didn't get, (the referee) could have sent off the central defender or left back of the Germany team."

Asked if he was concerned that his actions had damaged his reputation, Pepe shot back: "My club always back me, lots of Portuguese support me and this gives me strength to overcome the difficulties.

"I've made it clear since 2006 when I made myself available for Portugal - because I owe the Portuguese, I will play with my heart, I will play my best, I feel just like any other Portuguese, that is clear to me." - Wire Services.

World Cup