The Portuguese national team lost against France in the third and final round of the Egypt World Cup Main Round, and thus failed to qualify to the quarter-finals, ending its participation in the competition.
After the loss against Norway and the victory against Switzerland, Portugal knew that only the win against the French team would guarantee the qualification to the next stage of the World Championship. It was an all-or-nothing game for the “Heroes of the Sea”, but on an occasion when perfection was demanded, Murphy’s Law spoke louder.
For those who don’t know, Murphy’s Law states that “Everything that can, will go wrong”, and the Portuguese exhibition was the perfect example.
The game started and Portugal even scored first, but it quickly became clear that it was going to be a very long afternoon for Paulo Jorge Pereira’s men. With Dika Mem and Timothey N’Guessan on a good day, the backs took full advantage of the space provided by the Portuguese defence.
France took the lead a few minutes later and quickly reached a three-goal lead. Portugal was accusing the pressure of having to win the game and this became clear when shooting, with several Portuguese players failing in the deciding moment, situations that would normally end in a goal.
A slight Portuguese ascendant allowed the “Heroes of the Sea” to reduce the difference to the minimum margin (11-12) ten minutes from the interval, but “Les Bleus” responded and when the two teams collected from the dressing rooms the marker marked a Gallic advantage of four goals, 12-16.
In the second half, an assertive response was requested from the Portuguese fleet, but this did not happen. The French team showed all their power and experience and managed to get away on the scoreboard, but Portugal being unable to respond both defensively and offensively.
Over time the Gallic advantage continued to grow, reaching ten goals ten minutes from the end of the match. In the end, the scorer scored a French victory by nine goals, 23-32, with Hugo Descat being the top scorer of the match with eight goals scored. On the Portuguese side, Miguel Martins was the best scorer with six goals.
At the end of the match, Paulo Jorge Pereira was sad about the difference in the result, and said that the Portuguese team lacked some experience to deal with the moments of greatest tension:
“Today we did not play well, quite simply. We finished badly and there was some emotional lack of control, it was noted that French athletes are much more experienced in dealing with adversity than we are
We put more pressure because we wanted to do it. We don’t like to hide in the goals, and we were very close to reaching the goal we had set because we can only talk about medals after entering the first eight.”
Fábio Magalhães, Portuguese left-back who plays for Futebol Clube do Porto, was disappointed by the result and confirmed that the team showed some anxiety given the expectations that existed:
“It is difficult at this moment to explain our feelings because, as has already been said, we have created very high expectations, and at this moment we are very sad because we had high expectations of going through this phase, but unfortunately today we were unable to show all our value because it did not it’s our value, losing nine to France, but now there’s no turning back, it’s working to do better next time.
Maybe I’m anxious to live up to those expectations that I talked about earlier, and things started to go wrong and we couldn’t get back into the game like the team we’ve been up to now, and then it was a mess in the second half, the balls didn’t go in at six meters and theirs got in and it’s complicated ”