Portugal get six of the best from vintage Porto
LISBON (AFP) - Recently-crowned
European champions FC Porto will play a starring role in the Portuguese national side, with six players being called up to Luiz Felipe Scolari's Euro 2004 training camp on Friday.
FC Porto dominated Didier Deschamps' French outfit Monaco 3-0 in Wednesday's Champions League final to reclaim the trophy they won for the first time in 1987.
Now, it is hoped that the club's spate of recent success - they won the UEFA Cup after beating Scottish giants Celtic last year - will boost Portugal ahead of their hosting of the Euro 2004.
"It's a good feeling to have six European champions in the national team," beamed the president of the Portuguese federation, Gilberto Madail.
"I think that FC Porto have given us a huge boost - and I hope it will help motivate the national team even further."
Friday's training camp 80 kilometres north of the capital means there will be little rest for Porto defenders Nuno Valente, Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho, and their midfield club-mates Deco, Costinha and Maniche, who partied along with 20,000 fans in the streets of Porto until early Thursday morning.
Scolari, who led Brazil to a fifth World Cup triumph in 2002 before taking over as coach of Portugal, is now just waiting on Paris St Germain striker Pauleta to complete his squad for the June 12-July 4 championships.
Pauleta will play for PSG in the French Cup final against second division Chateauroux on Saturday before joining his international team-mates on Sunday.
Scolari has however come under fire from some Portugal fans for not selecting FC Porto keeper Vitor Baia to his squad.
Baia is the only Portuguese player to have won the three most important trophies in European club football; the Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona (1997), the UEFA Cup with FC Porto (2003) and the Champions League with FC Porto.
And the 34-year-old admitted he could not fathom Scolari's decision to leave him out.
"A goalkeeper in any other country with a similar story as mine over the past decade would be playing in the Euro, but unfortunately I'm not and there's nothing I can do about it."
Portugal will on Saturday play a Euro 2004 warm-up match against minnows Luxemburg in the north-west town of Agueda before facing Lithuania next week.