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Posted by Tom Kundert on 06/09/2010

There’s no way round it. Nani’s injury is a big blow to the Selecção. The news broke like a bombshell in Portugal. It struck a wound to our hopes. But perhaps not a mortal one.

In a team that has consistently struggled for goals since Carlos Queiroz took the reins after Euro 2008 (take out the Malta games and Portugal scored 9 goals in 8 qualification matches), Nani was Portugal’s most potent goal threat after Ronaldo. His sparkling end of season form for Manchester United was carried through to the Selecção’s recent friendlies. Nani was Portugal’s best player against both Cape Verde and Cameroon. He had done enough in most people’s eyes to push his way in front of Simão on the opposite wing to Ronaldo, although we will now never know if Carlos Queiroz saw it that way.

Wingers galore
Yet there is a more than credible silver lining to this cloud. As has been the norm over the past decade (Figo, Simão, Quaresma, Ronaldo, Nani, Danny), Portugal continue to be blessed with an inordinate number of top-drawer wingers. Nani is one of Portugal’s brightest stars no doubt. Yet it is precisely the position where the nation has most cover. Both left backs Fábio Coentrão and Duda are actually converted wingers, and pretty useful ones at that. Simão Sabrosa is Portugal’s most capped player in South Africa, with 81 appearances, and is no slouch in the goalscoring department himself, having netted 21 goals in a Portugal shirt.

But perhaps the real hidden boon for Portugal is the fact that Zenit St Petersburg’s flying forward Danny, the man who single-handedly destroyed Manchester United in the 2008 European Super Cup, could now play very much more than a bit part role. Despite that memorable performance, incredibly on his Zenit debut, Danny is not a name on the lips of most World Cup pundits. Playing in the low-profile Russian league, combined with a year out with a cruciate knee ligament tear explains this oversight.

Dan the man
Since returning to action at the start of the Russian championship, Danny has been back to his magnificent best. The winger come striker come attacking midfielder scored 4 goals in 10 matches, supplied a host of assists and was voted Player of Month in Russia in the opening month of the campaign. His form in Portugal’s warm-up games has been equally impressive. His man-of-the-match display in yesterday’s 3-0 victory over Mozambique, hours after Nani’s absence was confirmed, came on the back of lively showings in earlier friendlies against Cape Verde and Cameroon.

As a newspaper headline in Portugal so eloquently put it this morning: “We’ve got no Nani but we’ve got Danny!”


Comments

Posted by Tony Cardoso on 06/12/2010

Portugal is a great soccer team. The world some times forget that, but lets see who is the the champion.
FORÇA PORTUGAL !

Posted by Anonymous on 06/14/2010

Portugal Roxxxx......!!!

Posted by Nelson Medina on 06/14/2010

Nani's injury is a huge blow, but Portugal is very deep with loads of talent. The World Cup is about New Stars... And Danny will step up and fill those "Magic Portuguese Boots" for Portugal.

FORCA PORTU-GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAL!

Nelson Medina

Posted by Anonymous on 06/15/2010

a big blow indeed but this team still has the ability to win it all.as long as the refs don't rip them off as they have in previous tournaments.

Posted by acilio on 06/15/2010

NO doubt the loss of nani is a huge loss.We need his offence big time.Portugal;however,still have a great team that can beat anyone on their day.I just hope the refs don't decide games as they usually do against portugal.I'm not sour grapes it's just that i noticed portugal gets no respect.Italy on other hand seem to get all the "phamtom" calls specially
when they need them.Ronaldo needs to start putting the ball in the net instead of telling everyone how great he is.The refs will never give him the benefit of the doubt because he throws himself to the ground way too much.I think danny could be an impact player and our orginization has looked solid lately.I predict 2-0 win over ivory coast,1-0 over paranoid korea and 1-1 against brazil.SELECCAO NO MEU CORACAO.

Posted by Charles Kato on 06/15/2010

Oh ,its going to be a classical game..Im an African but i see Portugal a threat with world class players the likes of Deco,Simao and a 'deadly' Christiano Ronaldo.
But no body should take each other for granted,Ivory Coast will also put up a good resistance as there's Toures of Arsenal and Barcelona as experienced players.Im assuring the funs that we shall be entertained..Let Officials let the game flow.

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About

Tom Kundert first delved into Internet journalism as Soccernet's Portugal Correspondent for the 2002 World Cup. He liked the experience so much he built a site that is today visited by over one million people a month (PortuGOAL.net). English born and bred, he has lived in Lisbon since 1994.

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