Southampton captain José Fonte says the young talent in the Portuguese ranks makes him optimistic that his nation can push on from winning the European Championships.
Fonte is currently away with Portugal who host Latvia in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Sunday evening, and the defender addressed the media on the future of the national team as well as the ambitions he has with his country.
Sunday’s game against Latvia is Portugal’s fourth match of their qualifying group where they have recorded two wins and a defeat so far, which leaves them second in the table ahead of their last game in 2016. The defender admits that his side will be expected to take all three points in Faro.
“We are favourites,” he noted, “but there are no easy solutions.
“Yes, we can have trouble if we are not respectful and if we are not at our best.
“For now we depend only on us and we have to win all the games.”
The Saints man turns 33 in December and hopes his experience will help guide the next generation of Portugal players.
“We have young players to grow with high quality, but need time to enhance this quality,” he said.
“With games with minutes with more experience it will be possible. It is with optimism that we look at all these young people.”
Real Madrid defender Pepe is absent for the game, and Fonte says Cagliari’s Bruno Alves and Zenit’s Luís Neto are capable of deputising.
“There are 23 who want to help us win,” he said of the squad. “That was the same during the European Championships as well. Bruno Alves and Neto have many internationals and have nothing to prove.”