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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 5, 2006

Scolari dreaming of back-to-back success

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari already knows what it's like to win the World Cup - and now believes his team could be ready to make their own dreams come true.

Scolari led homeland Brazil to World Cup glory in Japan in 2002 but will take his current charges into unchartered territory if they can overcome France in tonight's semi-final in Munich.

The Portuguese have endured 40 years of hurt since a Eusebio-inspired team won the third-place play-off in 1966 against the Soviet Union after England - helped by some robust man-marking from Nobby Stiles on Eusebio - eliminated them in the semi-finals.

Since that all-time high, the Portuguese had never reached the knockout stages of a World Cup until this year, but Scolari has now led them to within 90 minutes of a place in Sunday's Berlin final.

'We are already among the best four teams and now we have the dream of being champions,' Scolari said. 'We are one game away from playing the championship match. We can dream.'

Scolari, who is expected to sign a two-year contract extension soon with the Portuguese despite reports Brazil would like to re-appoint him as coach, said before the tournament he was targeting a quarter-final place.

'It was no small demand, it was normal,' said Scolari. 'It did not put additional pressure on our players.

'Reaching the quarters was a minimum but now we are naturally looking to reach the final. Before, there were many obstacles in the way, but now there is only one.'

Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo are both injury doubts for the semi-final, with Scolari saying Ronaldo was making better progress than Figo.

'Figo and Ronaldo have had special training programmes and we will see what happens today [Tuesday] and how they feel tomorrow,' said Scolari. 'Cristiano has more chance of playing than Figo but I can't say anything for certain at the present.'

However, Scolari will be able to welcome back midfield pair Costinha and Deco - both of whom were suspended for the quarter-final with England - but he must do without Petit who serves a ban.

Scolari claims he has faith in whatever team he can put out against France, whom he has described as the new favourites to win the tournament following their elimination of Brazil in the last eight.

'We came to the tournament with 24 players - we are the only team with that many because I have confidence in them all and they can all do a job,' said 'Big Phil'.

'If anyone can't play, someone else will come in - that's why they are called up.'

The 24th player Scolari was referring to was defender Jorge Andrade, who was ruled out of the World Cup with cruciate ligament damage when playing for club side Deportivo La Coruna, but who has remained with the squad.

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