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Portuguese favourites not Turks, says Nihat

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Jun 2008

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Euro 2004 finalists Portugal should be regarded as favourites for winning Group A at Euro 2008 and not Turkey insisted the latter's star turn Nihat Kahveci on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Villarreal striker said that the Portuguese were more logical favourites both for the group and for their match on Saturday in Geneva than the Turks, who have not exactly set the world alight in their warm-up matches.

“We have completely messed up in our previous two qualifying set of matches, for Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup (where they were disgraced after attacking Swiss players following their elimination in a play-off),” said Nihat, who has 14 goals to his name in the international arena.

“That is in contrast to the Portuguese, who have put together some impressive performances (they also reached the 2006 World Cup semi-finals). It's therefore logical that they are favourites for the group and for our match.

“That is not to say we are going in with our heads bowed and accepting we are already beaten.

“But it has to be accepted that they are an impressive team, they have lots of great players and above all all-round talent,” he added.

Nihat, who returned from a long term injury to score vital goals in the last two Euro qualifiers against Norway and Bosnia to ensure they progressed to the finals, said that the Turkish could give the Portuguese some problems.

“That is provided we are tactically up to the mark.

“This type of match can often turn on mere details. It is vital not to neglect anything. That is why for the first time at national level, we have studied our opponent's tactics on video.

“It was very impressive (the Portuguese style of play).

“Our defence will be the key to the match. Because against the level of players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Quaresma or Deco, one has to be extremely disciplined.”

The other two sides in the group are co-hosts Switzerland and 2004 semi-finalists the Czech Republic.

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