LISBON - Coming off the frustration of a trophyless season,Portugal star Nani will be looking to make amends at Euro 2012,where his silky skills will be sorely needed to get his compatriotsout of a tough group. Drawn with three previous winners in Germany, the Netherlands andDenmark, the 2004 runners-up will have to click from the outset ifthey are to reach the knockout phase but in Nani they have a manwho certainly knows how to unlock the door. Coach Paulo Bento will be hoping for the real Nani to stand upafter a mixed season at Old Trafford, which started with a brace inthe Community Shield at Wembley against rivals Manchester City. Had he turned in that kind of showing in either league game againstthe blue half of the city to prevent either one of two painfuldefeats then the Premier League title may have stayed on the otherside of Manchester. But having been sidelined for the last World Cup with a shoulderinjury, he is looking to prove himself in Portuguese scarlet ratherthan Mancunian red. |
If he can pin down his best form, he could prove to be a key figurefor Bento's men as one of just two English-based players, the otherbeing Chelsea's Raul Meireles. "We will be out to beat the best teams at the event - we have beendrawn in a tough but not impossible group," Nani told A Bolamagazine after the draw. "We have to believe in ourselves and workhard. I think we can win it." That is a defiant stance from the gifted Cape Verde-born star, whohas blown frustratingly hot and cold in his five years at OldTrafford. Nevertheless he has clocked up more than a century of appearancesfor United while surpassing the half century for his country.
Nani has pinpointed the need to make a flying start againstGermany, their 2008 quarter-final conquerors, on June 9 in Lviv - abig ask against the perennial favourites. "I really hope we can win that first match as that would give us abig injection of confidence for the remainder of the tournament,"indicated the 25-year-old. With Denmark next up he will reflect on how he netted twice againstthe Scandinavians in qualifying - he scored five in 10 games acrossthe campaign - only for the Seleccao to lose the return, sendingthem into the playoffs against Bosnia, where he scored once in a6-2 victory.
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