Rocha exclusive: "Queiroz is a good coach" PDF Print E-mail
RochaIn Part II of PortuGOAL’s exclusive interview with Ricardo Rocha, the Tottenham Hotspur centre-back shares his thoughts about Portuguese football, revealing that he watches the games every week.

The Portugal international gives the low-down on his two former clubs, Benfica and Braga, as well as his thoughts on the national team.

PortuGOAL: Do you still watch Portuguese football?
Yes, I have Portuguese TV so I watch every week.

PortuGOAL: What do you make of the league this year? It’s a bit of a strange season so far.
Yeah, it’s a strange year because at the top we have a team (Leixoes) who usually fight not to get relegated. But I think they deserve to be top because they play good football. Usually every year Porto win everything. They go top of the league on the first day and win almost every game, but this year they’ve had a few problems.

Benfica are improving a lot, they still haven’t lost in the league yet. Sporting have played well but they have lost a few important games. They’re all struggling at the top so it will be competitive this year.

PortuGOAL: Do you think it’s more competitive because the league is getting stronger, or are the big teams becoming weaker or focussing too much on Europe?
No, I think the smaller teams are getting better. Leixoes are top of the league but they are not the only team who are doing well, you also have Naval who are doing well. I think the small teams are at a higher level and that is making it more difficult for the top teams.

PortuGOAL: What of Benfica, your old club? Do you think it will work under Quique Sanchez Flores? It seems to have started quite well.
Yeah, they’ve started quite well. He seems like a good coach. They have a fantastic team, you know! Fantastic players. There’s a little gap between them and the top teams, Porto and Sporting but the league is very long. Everything is decided in May, so they have to keep on winning and keep improving every match.

PortuGOAL: And Braga, another former team have improved a lot in recent years. Do you think that one day they can rival the big clubs and make it a ‘big four’ in Portugal?
Yeah, for sure. They’ve been fighing for that place with Guimaraes, which is a very good team also. But Braga has improved a lot since I was there. The infastructure and everything has improved since this president arrived.

They have a fantastic team with a lot of good, young players and a great coach who knows football. They have not been too good in the league this year, they’ve lost a few games, but I think they are improving and they’ll be fighting with the top teams for sure.

PortuGOAL: What about the Portuguese national side? Things have not been going well.
It’s been difficult. Me and everyone in Portugal doesn’t really understand what is happening. The team is the same as it has been for a few years, which achieved so much. But now since they’ve changed coach things have not got better.

I don’t think it is because of the coach because Queiroz is a well-known coach. He’s a good person and a good coach. I think the players must improve a lot because it’s a fight to qualify for South Africa. There are important games in front of us.

PortuGOAL: Do you think it’s also important that the Portuguese FA remain patient and avoid making any rash decisions with regard to Queiroz?
Yeah, for sure. He has the support. The fans are disappointed because they thought that Portugal could win most of the games in the group. And we lost a friendly 6-2 to Brazil which was not easy for everyone to take. But I think he has all the support of the fans and the FA, so I think it’s more down to the players to come through the difficulties for the coach and the country.

3 December 2008, by Sean Gillen

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