U-21 Squad Announced

Portugal U-21 coach Rui Jorge has named a squad of 21 for a training session during next week. The team is preparing for the upcoming U-21 Euro qualifying matches, and will hope to build on what has arguably been a successful campaign thus far.

Goalkeepers: Luis Ribeiro (Camacha), Mika (Benfica), Anthony Lopes (Lyon)

Defenders: Cedric (Academica), Andre Almeida (Benfica), Luis Martins (Benfica), Ivo Pinto (Leiria), Roderick (Servette), Pedro Mendes (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Pedro Coronas (Penafiel), David Simao (Academica), Flavio Ferreira (Academica), Pele (Milan), Diogo Rosado (Feirense), Ludovic (Feirense), Josue (Pacos Ferreira), Paulo Grilo (Santa Clara)

Forwards: Abel (Belenenses), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), Fredy (Libolo), Joao Silva (Vitoria Setubal)

Agra Passes Medical at Betis

Salvador Agra

Olhanense to Real Betis (almost)

Olhanense winger Salvador Agra has reportedly passed a medical ahead of a move to La Liga side Real Betis. Betis had been interested in the player, and had had two bids rejected. Now, however, the Spanish club has had an offer accepted. The amount of the transfer remains unclear. One outlet reports 200,000 euros, while another reports 500,000. It also remains unclear whether or not the U-21 international will join Betis immediately, or remain at Olhanense for the rest of the season. Regardless, Salvador Agra has passed his medical and is excruciatingly close to completing a move to Real Betis.

Bruno Varela Recieves Call

The main surprise in Rui Jorge’s latest U-21 squad is the inclusion of 17 year-old Benfica goalkeeper Bruno Varela. The keeper has been playing with the club’s youth team for this season, but was surprisingly on the bench for one of Benfica’s league matches earlier in the season. While it seems unlikely that he will see any playing time for the Portugal U-21 team, it is still a remarkable feat at the age of 17. Here’s the full list:

Goalkeeper: Bruno Varela (Benfica), Cristiano Figueiredo (Valencia), Mika (Benfica)

Defenders: Cédric (Academic), Joao Pereira (Trofense), Mário Rui (AS Gubbio), Nuno Reis (Cercle Brugge), Pedro Mendes (Real Madrid), Reuben (Maritimo), Vítor Bastos (Atletico)

Midfielders: Ludovic (Feirense), André Almeida (UD Leiria), André Martins (Sporting), Diogo Amado (Estoril), Josue (Pacos Ferreira), Pele (AC Milan), Sana (Valladolid)

Forwards: Abel Camara (Belenenses), Diogo Viana (Penafiel), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), Rui Fonte (Spanish), Salvador Agra (Olhanense), Wilson Eduardo (Olhanense)

Liga Orangina Younsters to Watch: Abel Camara

The Liga Orangina, which is Portugal’s second division, has nurtured many young talents in Portuguese Football over the past years. These talents have gone on to lead successful careers. Players such as Carlos Martins, Beto, Bruno Alves, and Raul Meireles have all, at one point in their lofty careers, plied their trade in the Liga Orangina. More recently, players such as Rafael Lopes, who represented the Portuguese team at the recent U-20 World Cup, and Joao Silva, who’s scoring exploits in the Liga Orangina earned him a move to Premier League giants Everton, have impressed.

Now, we will take a look at the new crop of players who show promise in the Liga; players who we will certainly hear much of in the coming seasons. First up is Abel Camara, of Belenenses.

Abel Camara


Player to Watch

Liga Orangina side Belenenses has had a reputation for some time of their youth policy. Ruben Amorim, Goncalo Brandao, and Rolando all graduated from their youth academy, and the newest starlet to come through the ranks is Abel Camara.

Abel joined Belenenses at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, and linked up with the youth team for the season. The following season, the striker was shipped away to Estrela Amadora, who was then languishing in the third division in Portugal. There, he enjoyed success, scoring six times in the season, still only aged 19. His performances caught the eye of Belenenses, who recalled him to the first team for the 2010-2011 season. He made his debut for the team on the opening day of the season against Aves, and marked it with a goal. He went on to score three more times that season, and also picked up a couple of appearances for the Portuguese Under-21 team, most notably scoring a screamer on his debut against Ireland.

Much is expected of Abel, not only for Belenenses, but also Portugal. The Portuguese National Team has lacked a true striker in recent years, and although that problem seems to be not as pressing as it once was, Abel could fit the bill. He is fast, has a tireless work rate, and has a men shot on him. He has already debuted for the country of his birth, Guiné-Bissau, but as his debut was in a friendly match, he has the capability of switching allegiances. In the meantime, the striker is appearing for Portugal’s U-21 team.

U-21s Stutter in Russia

Russia 2-1 Portugal (U21)

The Portuguese Under-21 team, just like their senior counterparts, put in a lackluster performance against a skillful Russian team. Russia started out on the front foot, coming close twice with two decent headers, but not forcing Mika into a save. Slightly against the run of play, Portugal took the lead through Wilson Eduardo. A surging run from Sporting youngster Andre Martins was finished with an intelligent pass into space for Eduardo, whose shot was partially saved by the keeper, but still creeped in the goal. Russia’s play, however, was becoming more organized, forcing the Portuguese players into silly and costly mistakes. The first half ended with Portugal gaining the numerical advantage, but Russia looked the better team.

The second half started in spectacular fashion after Kokorin headed past Mika to level the scores. Mika will be disappointed with his defense on the play, and also with his lackadaisical attempt at a save. Soon after, Russia poured more salt on Portugal’s already stinging wounds. The corner was whipped in, and the ball fell to Smolov, who, after juking out the entire Portuguese defense, unleashed a deft near-post shot, which squeezed in just past the diving Mika. The goal was quite impressive, and clearly highlighted the frailties of the Portuguese defense. For most of the rest of the game, thing stayed pretty even, with most teams looking equally as dangerous, although Russia looked all the more organized. The final whistle blew and the game ended in a 2-1 favor of the Russians, which they fully deserve.

Mika, Cedric, Joao Pereira, Pedro Mendes, Mario Rui, Andre Almeida, Josue(David Simao), Andre Martins(Andre Martins), Sana(Diogo Viana), Wilson Eduardo, Nelson Oliveira

Man of the Match: Andre Martins

Crutch of the Match: Cedric/Mika

Youngsters Draw Poland

Portugal 1-1 Poland (U21)

The Portuguese Under-21 picked up an unlucky point against Poland in their second match of Euro 2013 qualification. The game started off perfectly for the home side, with Pedro Mendes heading in a Josue cross to give Portugal an early 1-0 lead. That goal was virtually the first thing of note to occur in the match. Instead of dropping back in intensity as we have seen much too often, the team pressed forward. Wilson Eduardo came close after a brilliant turn and pass from Sana set him up, but he lifted his shot above the goal. Portugal then came within a whisker away from doubling their lead. A curling cross from the left was sent in, and the youngster’s deft header clipped the crossbar as it bounced out. Poland then surprised everyone when they grabbed a goal to level the scores at 1-1. Some sloppy defending and some neat link-up play gave Poland a shock equaliser. Not at all put off, Portugal continued their charge forward. Wilson Eduardo was next to join the list of misses, and his was certainly the worst. After a blatantly errant back pass from a Pole, Wilson Eduardo was one-on-one with the opposition goalkeeper, only to be brought down by the keeper in the box. The referee made no hesitation as he showed the keeper red and pointed to the spot. Wilson Eduardo stepped up and struck the penalty, which hit the left-hand upright post and rolled agonizingly close along the goalmouth to the opposite side. Portugal continued their dominance, but luck was not on their side. Wilson Eduardo tried two speculative efforts, but they fizzed wide and high, respectively. After Diogo Viana’s well-struck free kick was saved by the Polish goalkeeper, Andre Almeida came agonizingly close to sealing the win for the Seleccao. A fine cross was sent in from the right, which picked up Andre Almeida’s run perfectly. The midfielder’s header cannoned back off the upright. That miss summed up the night for Portugal, who just couldn’t find Lady Luck. The final score: 1-1. Portugal may not have won, but the skill and understanding of the players is an encouraging sign. With some work, this team has the ability to be great.

Mika, Cedric, Pedro Mendes, Joao Pereira, Mario Rui, Andre Almeida, Andre Martins(David Simao), Sana(Nelson Oliveira), Josue, Wilson Eduardo(Diogo Viana), Rui Fonte

Cristiano, Ruben Dropped, Andre Pires Drafted In

Valencia goalkeeper Cristiano has been released from the Portuguese Under-21 training camp due to injury. Rui Jorge, the current Under-21 coach, has announced that he will not call up a replacement for the shot-stopper. Mika and Luis Ribeiro will now vie for a starting spot, a spot that Mika will most likely get. Both the goalkeepers were a part of the Portugal U-20 team’s recent runner-up finish at the U-20 World Cup. Mika was voted the best goalkeeper of the tournament, while Luis Ribeiro failed to make a single appearance. The choice doesn’t look a hard one.

Elsewhere in the squad, Ruben Ferreira, of Maritimo, has also been released due to injury. The left-back has been in great form this season for Maritimo, easily holding down a starting spot. Belenenses left-back Andre Pires will take his place. Pires made his debut for the U-21 team earlier this season against Slovakia.

U-21 Squad Released for Qualification Matches

Portuguese Under-21 coach Rui Jorge has named a squad of 23 for the team’s upcoming Euro 2013 qualification matches against Poland and Russia. The list includes no fewer than six players that were involved in this summer’s U-20 World Cup, which is surely a smart move by the coach, as that team has been heralded as the future of the Portuguese National Team. Here’s the full list:

Goalkeepers: Cristiano Figueiredo, Luis Ribeiro, Mika
Defenders: Cédric Soares, Ivo Pinto, João Pereira, Mário Rui, Pedro Mendes, Rúben, Vitor Bastos
Midfielders: Ludovic, André Almeida, André Martins, David Simão, Diogo Amado, Josué, Pelé, Lassana Camará
Forwards: Abel Camará, Diogo Viana, Nélson Oliveira, Rui Fonte, Wilson Eduardo


U-21s Edge France

The Portuguese Under-21 team picked up an impressive win over France today, in a U-21 friendly. The final score was 1-0, with Wilson Eduardo grabbing the only goal of the game. That goal was the first chance of note for Portugal in the game. A neat interchange between Rui Fonte and Diogo Rosado was cleared by a French defender, only for the clearance to fall for Eduardo, who volleyed with his right foot. That shot was saved, but the goalkeeper couldn’t keep out the forward’s acrobatic left foot shot. The rest of the game was largely uninteresting, with Portugal controlling the match.

Anthony Lopes (Cristiano), Cedric, Joao Pereira (Nuno Reis), Pedro Mendes, Mario Rui, Andre Martins (Salvador Agra), Diogo Amado (Pele), Diogo Rosado (David Simao), Josue (Julio Alves), Rui Fonte (Caetano), Wilson Eduardo (Joao Silva)


U-20 Bunch Brought in

Following their Euro 2013 qualifier on Thursday, Portuguese U-21 coach Rui Jorge made some changes to the squad that is set to take on France on September 5th. Mario Rui, Nuno Reis, Julio Alves, David Simao, Caetano, Salvador Agra have all been called up in place of Ivo Pinto, Vitor Bastos, Andre Almeida, Diogo Viana, Ricardo Martins, and Abel Camara. Of the players drafted into the squad, David Simao is the only one who has any sort of experience with the U-21 team. The remaining five are just off Portugal’s best display at a U-20 World Cup for a long time.