Portugal coach Fernando Santos and his players were understandably delighted after beating Switzerland convincingly last night in Lisbon to book their place at the 2018 World Cup.
Santos praised the way his players fought and worked for the victory, to offer him the perfect present on his birthday, and also spoke about the incredible atmosphere and communion produced in the stadium upon the spontaneous rendition of the national anthem after the final whistle blew.
“Togetherness” was a common theme among the Portugal delegation post-match, while Bernardo Silva enthusiastically championed the Seleção’s chances of going far in Russia next summer.
Portugal coach, Fernando Santos:
“I have lots of confidence in my players. I was born 63 years ago, and today they gave me this present. My players worked hard and fought hard. As I’ve always said, with this quality of organisation you are closer to winning. Often people confuse playing pretty with playing ugly and playing well. Playing well is not letting the opposition score and you scoring goals. Today, Portugal showed it has the quality to play against any team.
“I’m a Christian, I believe in God, in his son and in the Holy Spirit. But this is my faith, my religious conviction. Here I believe in my players and what they can do as a team and that’s what I transmit to them. And I’m sure they have put their trust in this, and that’s why things have worked out. It’s this togetherness among all of us.
“Singing the national anthem at the end was so beautiful - it was brutal. This communion is brutal. We will try to give more joy to the Portuguese people because they deserve it.
“With this team I’ll go to the end of the world. The World Cup? We go into every game with the ambition and desire to win and that’s what we’ll do. My focus now is November, and the friendly matches. This is an ongoing job of assessment to choose the final 23 players. We’ll try and form as strong a squad as possible for the tournament.”
José Fonte, talking to PortuGOAL:
Portugal midfielder, Bernardo Silva:
“We’re going to try and win the World Cup. We’ll be going into the tournament with the ambition of winning it. We go into every game to win. That’s our strength and we know when we all think that way we’re nearer to victory. Fernando Santos always gives us lots of confidence. This is a fantastic squad. I feel great to be here and very happy that we’ve made it to the World Cup.”
Portugal goalkeeper, Rui Patrício
“It was tough qualifying campaign, but we knew we depended only on ourselves. We all deserve congratulations. We’re at the World Cup again.”
Portugal midfielder, João Moutinho:
“Mission accomplished with an excellent display. We managed to control all the aspects of the game in front of this marvellous crowd. What’s the secret of our success? Togetherness. We showed this on the pitch. We’re to be congratulated.”
Portugal midfielder, João Mário:
“The promises the coach makes are always the same. He believes in us, but the sentiment is mutual. We never doubted we would qualify in first place. It’s legitimate to think about winning the World Cup. We may not be favourites, but we are contenders for sure.”
Portugal right-back, Cédric Soares:
“We’ll approach the World Cup the same way we approached the European Championship. We’ll think about it one game at a time, but there’s a long time to go and we’ll have time to set our goals.”
William Carvalho, Portugal midfielder:
“We all have a dream and we can make it come true. We’re at the World Cup, we have an excellent team and we believe we can have a great tournament. Tonight we fought from start to finish. The game went well collectively and individually. We achieved our goal and now we aspire to have a great World Cup campaign. It’s time to celebrate.”
by Tom Kundert