Portugal coach hits back at Porto criticism of Gabon trip

LISBON Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:34pm GMT

Portugal's soccer coach Paulo Bento speak at a news conference in Moscow October 11, 2012. Portugal face Russia on Friday for their World Cup 2014 Group F qualifier. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Portugal's soccer coach Paulo Bento speak at a news conference in Moscow October 11, 2012. Portugal face Russia on Friday for their World Cup 2014 Group F qualifier.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

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LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal coach Paulo Bento said clubs should stay out of the national team's business after Porto's president criticised the decision to play an international friendly in Gabon this week a few days before a Champions League round.

"I don't meddle in the work of club presidents so I do not accept interferences in my role, be it from Porto's president or any other," Bento said in televised remarks on Friday.

Jorge Pinto da Costa, Porto's long-time president, launched a scathing attack on the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) on Thursday after Portugal had drawn 2-2 with Gabon in a friendly in Libreville.

"They took the players to wherever they wanted without paying a thing, to a pitch with no conditions at all, and a very humid climate. It's deplorable," the 74-year-old Pinto da Costa said.

"Playing in Gabon at a time when clubs are involved in the Champions League was absurd. I regret Portugal's sports secretary of state did not intervene. It is scandalous."

Porto regulars Joao Moutinho and Silvestre Varela, who played for the national team in Libreville, arrived back in Portugal on Thursday and will travel to the island of Madeira on Friday to play a cup match. They then have a Group A Champions League clash with Dynamo Zagreb next Wednesday.

"Either he has a problem with the FPF which he must solve or he likes Colombia's national team more," Bento said, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to Porto's Colombian duo James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez being flown out to the United States, to play Brazil earlier this week.

(Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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