Portugal target top spot

ANDORRA LA VELLA (Andorra) • Portugal coach Fernando Santos vowed that his side will not take minnows Andorra lightly when both teams meet in a World Cup qualifier today.

The European champions are second in Group B - three points behind Switzerland, who hold the automatic qualifying berth.

Anything less than a win for Portugal at the Estadi Nacional will leave the visitors in danger of emulating Greece - the last European champions to fail to qualify for the subsequent World Cup Finals.

While the group runners-up will settle for a play-off, Santos is eyeing top spot, which Portugal will seal if they beat Andorra and then Switzerland in Lisbon three days later.

"Portugal are favourites and we have a very clear goal, which is to be present at the World Cup. We want to qualify ourselves (in) first (place) and depend only on us," Santos was quoted on the Portuguese Football Federation's official website.

"All games have the same degree of importance, the opponent's name does not have any interest for us. Our players know all of the details of the Andorra team, and that they will be playing with almost all of their players on the defensive."

He will be boosted by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo from injury.

"With Cristiano, any team will get stronger and Portugal is stronger," Santos added.

On Thursday, Poland striker Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick in his side's 6-1 win over Armenia to break a European qualifying record set by Ronaldo in August.

Poland's record scorer on 50 goals has 15 from this campaign, one more than Ronaldo, who will have the chance to leapfrog the Pole today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Portugal target top spot'. Print Edition | Subscribe