Portugal takes young Benfica striker to Euro 2012
LISBON, Portugal (AP) -Portugal is taking 20-year-old striker Nelson Oliveira to the 2012 European Championship finals even though he has played just 10 minutes for the national team.
The Benfica player was the main surprise in the 23-man squad announced by coach Paulo Bento on Monday.
Portugal has struggled to find a top-class center-forward, with most goals in the qualifying campaign coming from Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani.
Oliveira has played mostly as a substitute for his club and came on late for Portugal in a friendly against Poland in February for his debut. He faces competition for a place in the lineup from Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga.
Oliveira "is a young player with a lot of skill and a lot of potential,'' Bento told a news conference. "He's got different characteristics from the other strikers. We believe in him.''
Defender Miguel Lopes and midfielder Custodio Castro, both uncapped players from Portuguese club Braga, were other surprises though they are unlikely to be first choices for Bento.
The Portuguese, who are still chasing their first international title, are in Group B against former champions Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark at Euro 2012.
The squad gathers on Wednesday for its pre-tournament training camp.
Portugal plays exhibition games against Macedonia on May 26 and against Turkey on June 2, two days before traveling to Poland.
Goalkpeers: Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (Cluj).
Defenders: Bruno Alves (Zenit St. Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Pepe (Real Madrid), Rolando (FC Porto), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Miguel Lopes (Braga).
Midfielders: Carlos Martins (Granada), Joao Moutinho (FC Porto), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Raul Meireles (Chelsea), Ruben Micael (Zaragoza), Custodio Castro (Braga).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Helder Postiga (Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica).