Portugal's Jota believes he can shine despite fitness struggle

AFP , Thursday 20 Jun 2024

Portugal forward Diogo Jota said Thursday he feels he can make the difference for his country in key moments at Euro 2024, despite not playing a full game in four months.

Jota
Portugal's Diogo Jota jumps of a challenged by Czech Republic's Robin Hranac during a Group F match between Portugal and Czech Republic at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Photo: AP

 

The Liverpool attacker last played 90 minutes in a match in his club team's 3-1 Premier League victory over Burnley in February, but suffered a knee injury in the match.

Jota had a goal disallowed in a bright display off the bench in Portugal's opening 2-1 Group F win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old backed himself to deliver at the tournament in Germany for the 2016 champions, ahead of their clash against Turkey on Saturday.

"Goals decide games and we work hard for that. I feel like I have the ability to be at the right moment at the right time," Jota told reporters.

"I know that I've worked hard since my last injury to be in the best physical shape... I feel capable of playing a game. I can't guarantee it will last 90 or 120 minutes, but I feel good enough to play and that's the most important thing for me."

Jota said former Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp sent him a message after seeing his disallowed goal against the Czechs.

"He's a coach who usually doesn't miss anything and knows when it's important to talk to the players," said Jota of the German, who left Liverpool this summer after nine years at the helm.

"He gave me a word of appreciation for the disallowed goal that would have had a special meaning for me."

Portugal eventually claimed victory when Francisco Conceicao struck in stoppage time.

"The most important thing was that we scored again and it counted," added Jota.

Turkey beat Euros debutants Georgia in their first game and the winner of Saturday's clash is guaranteed to qualify for the last 16.

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