Scolari not intimidated by France's record
MUNICH, July 4: Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said he was refusing to be intimidated by their dreadful record against World Cup semi-final opponents France.
Portugal have lost their last seven matches versus the French, including the 1984 and 2000 European Championship semi-finals.
The latter match ended in chaos after France won 2-1 with a controversial golden goal penalty.
But Scolari said his team had ended similarly unfavourable runs against Spain and Brazil during his 3-1/2 years in charge.
''Historically, we have a big disadvantage against France,'' he said.
''This is something we can work on psychologically with the players because nothing lasts forever and there's always a chance we can change history.'' ''We hadn't beaten Brazil for nearly 40 years before our win in Porto. We hadn't beaten Spain for years, but we did it against them as well.
''We have to convince our players it's time to turn the page.'' In one of Scolari's first games in charge in March 2003, Portugal beat Brazil 2-1 in a friendly to record their first win over their former colony for 37 years.
His team also rewrote history the following year when they beat Spain for the first time in a competitive match to qualify for the quarter-finals of the European Championship, which the Portuguese hosted.
It was also Portugal's first win over Spain in any match for 23 years.
Scolari heaped praise on the French team, saying they were the best of the four semi-finalists.
''If we had a choice, they would be the last opponents we would want to face,'' he said.
''They are highly organised, are good in the air, they have a superb synchronisation of movement and players with a fantastic technical quality.
''Maybe the final wouldn't be as difficult as this. They are the best prepared of the four.'' Scolari brushed aside a report in a French newspaper which said his team were rough and unsporting.
''In the last three-and-a-half years, Portugal have had two red cards, both in the game against the Netherlands,'' he said, referring to his team's stormy 1-0 World Cup win over the Dutch in the second round.
''So, I ask, how many red cards have France had. Was it, by any chance, less than us?'' ''There are so many players in Portugal, in Brazil, in Kuwait, in France, in Saudi Arabia and everywhere else who occasionally do things which aren't correct.
''This talk is nonsense, it doesn't get us anywhere. We must stay focused on the French team, who have players who make us happy to watch them.''