Postiga to face Denmark despite criticism

Portugal coach Paulo Bento is keeping faith with striker Helder

Postiga, even though it could cost him his job.

Portugal has scored only once in its four matches this year, and

Postiga didn’t even manage a shot on goal in the 1-0 loss to

Germany at the European Championship.

The Portuguese desperately need to get on the scoresheet in

their second Group B match against Denmark on Wednesday or they

risk going home sooner than they expected.

”Helder’s playing tomorrow,” Bento said Tuesday, despite

mounting calls at home for the goal-poor striker to be dropped.

With strikers Hugo Almeida and Nelson Oliveira waiting in the

wings, Bento’s insistence on the 29-year-old Postiga could yet

backfire amid accusations his dogged faith in the player is

misplaced.

Postiga has made 48 international appearances and is at his

third straight European Championship, but he was left out of

Portugal’s 2010 World Cup squad by previous coach Carlos

Queiroz.

He exited Sporting Lisbon early last season, moving to Zaragoza

in Spain after failing to score in his first five Portuguese league

matches.

Portugal has plenty of talent but, crucially, its blunt attack

has been unable to breach opposition defenses and will be

hard-pressed to find a way past the tight Danish back line.

Bento praised Postiga’s work rate and willingness to help out

with defensive duties.

”Any player I pick, in whatever position, it is because I am

sure they will give their all for the national team,” Bento said,

adding that Postiga had been ”extraordinary” against Germany.

Postiga acknowledged that he needs to refind his touch in front

of goal.

”We have to improve our finishing,” Postiga said. ”We’ve been

creating plenty of chances. The goals will end up coming.”

Postiga and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only two surviving members

of Portugal’s Euro 2004 squad. Most memorably, his 83rd-minute

equalizer against England in that tournament sent the quarterfinal

match into extra time and then a penalty shootout that Portugal won

on its way to the final.

Postiga was the second highest scorer in Portugal’s Euro 2012

qualifying campaign with five goals, two fewer than Ronaldo.