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Portugal seek four points to reach Euro 2008

LISBON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Portugal host Armenia on Saturday confident of winning and leaving themselves with only a draw to earn against Finland in Porto next week to qualify for next year's European championship finals.

If Portugal take four points from their last two Group A qualifiers they can book their tickets to Austria and Switzerland.

''With two decisive games remaining it's up to us to do what we had expected to do before the competition: reach these two final games with a chance of qualifying,'' coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.

Portuguese defender Miguel Monteiro will miss the games after being ruled out for two weeks with a thigh injury. He will be replaced in the squad by uncapped Sporting defender Abel Ferreira.

The Valencia player's absence adds to Portugal's defensive woes after centre back Ricardo Carvalho had to withdraw with a back problem, joining Chelsea team mate Paulo Ferreira and Juventus's Jorge Andrade on the injury list.

Real Madrid defender Pepe could make his debut for Portugal as Carvalho's replacement.

Barcelona playmaker Deco and Benfica midfielder Armando Petit are also injured.

Portugal's attacking hopes lie with Cristiano Ronaldo who has been on fine form for Manchester United.

''I want to help the the national team with goals and assists like I have been doing for United,'' said Ronaldo, who scored twice in two minutes in United's 2-0 win over over Blackburn Rovers last Sunday.

Brazilian-born coach Scolari will not be in the dugout for the Armenia game while he serves the last of a three-match ban imposed by UEFA for an assault on Serbia player Ivica Dragutinovic after a 1-1 draw on Sept. 12.

Scolari's assistant Flavio Murtosa will take his place.

With two matches remaining, Portugal are second in Group A, one point adrift of leaders Poland and three ahead of Serbia and Finland with only the top two qualifying for the finals. Armenia are sixth and out of the running.

Probable teams: Portugal: Ricardo Pereira; Jose Bosingwa, Marco Caneira, Fernando Meira, Bruno Alves; Miguel Veloso, Maniche Ribeiro, Cristiano Ronaldo, Simao Sabrosa, Ricardo Quaresma, Hugo Almeida Armenia: Roman Berezovsky; Karen Dokhoyan, Sargis Hovsepyan, Robert Arzumanyan, Alexander Tadevosyan; Artavazd Karamyan, Levon Pachajyan, Romik Khachatryan, Hamlet Mkhitaryan; Samvel Melkonyan, Edgar Manucharyan.

Referee: To be announced.


Story first published: Thursday, November 15, 2007, 23:05 [IST]
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