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Portugal call for Pepe to solidify their World Cup hopes

| 02.06.2010

Portugal’s World Cup hopes have been boosted by the return of their totemic defender Pepe, who has been named in coach Carlos Queiroz’s final 23-man squad.

The Brazilian-born centre-back, who is recovering from knee ligament damage, has not played since December, but he is set to feature in South Africa having passed a fitness test.

Portugal made light work of Cameroon on Tuesday, winning 3-1 courtesy of two goals from Raul Meireles and a delightful chip from Manchester United winger Nani.

This authoritative performance was a welcome return to form for Queiroz’s side, who were far from convincing in qualification, squeezing past Bosnia-Herzegovina in a play-off to confirm their World Cup place.

Although they stuttered to a 0-0 draw against Cape Verde Islands, Portugal have not lost a game since their 6-2 friendly loss to old foes and Group G rivals Brazil in 2008.

This may not bode well for Portugal’s meeting with the Brazilians on June 25th, but Queiroz will be confident of progressing from what is arguably the World Cup’s most competitive group.

With the attacking talents of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Deco coupled with a defence built around Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe, Portugal have the nucleus required to lead them to the quarter-finals, which seems a likely outcome at 11/5.

Portugal’s first match of the tournament is potentially decisive, as they face the Ivory Coast in what could effectively prove to be a play-off for the second qualification berth in Group G, behind likely winners Brazil.

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Author

Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.