#FIFA Women's World Cup

Francisco Neto on preparing for a FIFA Women's World Cup™ debut

Francisco Neto, 30 Apr 2024


World Cup debutantes Portugal made a big impression, narrowly missing out on qualification from their group. Head Coach Francisco Neto spoke to FIFA about how they prepared to make their World Cup bow, and what the future holds for women’s football in his football-obsessed homeland.

Managing players – and expectations
People management is an essential skill for any coaching team, especially at a major tournament. One of Neto’s most important jobs at the World Cup was to explain that every player had a role to play, whether they were in the starting line-up or not. To prove it, he took the opportunity to rotate his squad, particularly in the second group stage game against Vietnam. This ensured that 22 of his players had had some game time going into the final group match against the USA, which helped keep any frustration in check.

Preparing an adaptable squad
Giving as many players as possible a taste of World Cup football had the added benefit of making Portugal more adaptable and cohesive. In the build-up to the tournament, Neto invited a boys’ team to the training camp, and had his squad play training matches against them. This allowed the coaches to simulate a range of different scenarios and help their players think on their feet during games. Neto’s approach paid dividends and his side were able to adjust their shape with relative ease, particularly in their opening game against the Netherlands.

Preparing for a World Cup debut
The World Cup campaign was a step into the unknown, but Portugal were able to make up for their lack of experience thanks to the wealth of tournament expertise within the Portuguese FA (FPF). Before the squad stepped on the plane to New Zealand, they sat down with men’s Head Coach Roberto Martinez and the FPF’s youth coaches to understand and prepare for some of the challenges they might face at the World Cup. All the association’s staff emphasised that the players should enjoy their first taste of World Cup football – and it certainly whetted their appetite for more.

The future’s bright
Finally, Neto looks to the future of the women’s game in his country. Qualifying for their first World Cup was a watershed moment for the Portugal, leading as it did to a boom in media interest and attendances at internationals. Neto’s team have set a standard for the next generation of female players, and as far as the Portuguese public are concerned, nothing is impossible any longer. The nation expects success, and Neto is relishing the challenge of delivering it – one step at a time.

Rate your experience

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.