The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off on Thursday, 20 July and for the first time ever, our national team will be competing in the tournament.
Since playing in last year’s 2022 UEFA Women’s European Championship, the team’s form has been nothing short of outstanding, winning all five of their World Cup qualifying games, scoring 15 goals along the way and conceding just four. They finally clinched qualification back in February in a nail-biting match against Cameroon.
While the team is heading to the World Cup in fine form, it’s certainly not going to be easy. Portugal is ranked 21 in the world rankings and faces the daunting task of playing their opening games against the Netherlands (ranked 8) and the USA, who are officially, the best team in the world. Nevertheless, under the guidance of their excellent head coach, Francisco Neto, anything is possible and whatever the results on the pitch, his emphasis on learning and development and delivering performances that inspire the nation will continue.
One thing the team has in its favour is a great team spirit. In last year’s tournament, held in England, the British media described them as ‘the plucky Portuguese’. As team captain Dolores Silva told me, “As Portuguese women, we are not as tall or as muscular as players from other countries and so we have to rely more on our skill and attitude. We are not a team of stars, but by working together, we are a good team.”
They also have very talented players. The names to look out for this summer include Jéssica Silva. Twenty-eight years old and playing for Benfica, she’s at her peak and could become a worldwide star. Kika Nazareth is another. Just 20 she’s already won three league titles with Benfica and is the first female player to have the renowned Jorge Mendes as her agent, someone whose client base includes a certain José Mourinho.
So what are the team’s ambitions and how far can they go in the tournament? “What I can promise,” said Francisco Neto, “is that Portugal will be a team that the Portuguese will be proud to see. We want to be competitive and, if possible, fight until the last game. We want to depend only on ourselves in our last game with the United States.”
Qualifying for the finals of the World Cup has been a tremendous achievement, boosting the team’s reputation and improving their world ranking. As we look forward to what promises to be a fantastic tournament, everyone from Tomorrow magazine will be cheering on the team – Força Portugal!
Dates for the diary
23 July Portugal v Netherlands
27 July Portugal v Vietnam
1 August Portugal v USA
20 August World Cup Final
All matches are likely to be shown free to air on RTP.