Jota believes he can shine despite fitness struggle

HARSEWINKEL: Portugal forward Diogo Jota (pic) said 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.

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 Turkiye today.

“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 Juergen 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.

Turkiye beat Euros debutants Georgia in their first game and the winners of today’s clash are guaranteed to qualify for the last 16. — AFP

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