Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Maniche Can Seal Big Move

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Maniche Can Seal Big Move

Article excerpt

Portugal star Maniche is ready to take centre stage when his side meets Greece in the Euro 2004 final tomorrow in Lisbon.

Moneybag clubs have been alerted to Maniche's talents since his formidable strike from outside the area gave his side a 2-1 victory over Holland, which allowed his team to progress to their first ever major tournament final.

Maniche's dynamic play in the Champions League for winners FC Porto and for his national team this summer has fuelled speculation that he will be joining one of Europe's biggest clubs in the coming weeks. However, his only focus right now is in the European tournament.

"I have several offers but it will be the FC Porto president to decide," said Maniche. "At this moment my only focus is in the national team."

And the Porto talisman is determined to end the tournament on a high note.

"I have another opportunity to show my value in the big arena and I aim to take full advantage," said Maniche.

However, the hosts were humbled in their opening game by Greece and, for that reason, remain cautious ahead of their most challenging showdown in their history. "We are not favourites," said Maniche.

"Anything can happen but I hope we can play at our best level and win the tittle."

Portugal have grown from strength to strength throughout this tournament and their three narrow victories against Spain, England and Holland have given Luiz Felipe Scolari's team the right momentum.

"Psychologically and physically we are well," said the Porto midfielder.

Maniche believes that much has changed since the last time the two sides' met. "Ever since our defeat against Greece we are more determined and much stronger," he said.

"We hope that we can maintain our high level of football that we have shown in recent games and that we can give our fans further joy."

Maniche admits that their rivals cannot be underestimated, having ousted defending champions France and title favourites the Czech Republic. …

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