Portugal coach Fernando Santos has paid the All Whites the highest possible compliment, saying that the current New Zealand team has the capacity to surprise anyone.

Tomorrow's match is a genuine David vs Goliath contest, but also epitomizes the beauty of football in many ways.

On one side Portugal, the reigning European champions, with iconic names like Eusebio, Rui Costa and Luis Figo down the years and Ronaldo at the moment. On the other New Zealand, a country with one professional team and only a smattering of players at top clubs across the globe.

But over 90 minutes unpredictable things can happen on a football field, a fact that Santos was keen to emphasise yesterday.


"We have looked at the New Zealand game, it has helped us to watch their two games here in Russia," said Santos when asked about his impressions of the All Whites.

"They work hard, they fight hard and they have some good quality players who play in England and have good strengths. They have some quality in the counter attack and they complicated life for Mexico a lot."

The All Whites' display against Mexico made a lot of people at this tournament sit up and take notice - who is this team from the bottom of the world pushing the North American champions to the limit? - and Santos was keen to emphasise that point.

"We have to be on our toes because they are a team that can surprise," said Santos. "I hope we have no surprise."

Several Portuguese journalists kept referring to the expectation of a goleada (a big win) on Sunday, but Santos watered that down.

"We don't want to take things for granted," said Santos. "We always respect our opponents and we don't underestimate anyone."

Santos also refused to confirm if Ronaldo will take the field, though Portuguese media has indicated that he is likely to play.

"I don't know if I am going to play with Ronaldo or not," said Santos. "It's not I don't want to say, but I don't want the opponent to know that is why."


Santos also joked that he understood the Ronaldo mania around Russia, saying
"even I want to watch Cristiano Ronaldo."

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