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2012-08-07T07:00:00 Updated 2015-02-19T02:03:18

Vaz excited by Portugal return

Ricardo Vaz Te is looking forward to returning to Portugal for Friday's pre-season meeting with SC Braga - but insisted his main focus will be helping West Ham United to prepare for the Barclays Premier League season.

The former Portugal Under-21 international came through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon before moving to England at the age of 16 and admitted it will be special to return to play in his homeland.

Lisbon-born Vaz Te twice appeared for Bolton Wanderers against Portuguese opposition in the UEFA Cup, scoring against Vitoria de Guimaraes in November 2005 and appearing against old club Sporting in March 2008.

Speaking to West Ham TV before flying out with his team-mates on Tuesday, the No12 stated that he would not be overawed by the occasion and that he would remain focussed on the task at hand.

"It's always a warm feeling to play at home," said Vaz Te. "I had the chance to play in the UEFA Cup in Portugal in the past and the motivation is always there in front of a home crowd.

"That said, I need to focus on the main thing and that is playing well for West Ham United, making sure I Improve and work hard ahead of the new season rather than concentrating on the occasion."

Vaz Te also conceded that both he and his side will need to step it up a gear against a higher calibre of opponent - Braga finished third in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

Ricardo Vaz Te

Ricardo Vaz Te in action against Sporting Lisbon in 2008

"Braga is a higher challenge. They finished third in their league last season and did ever so well. It's going to be a difficult game for us.

"It will be a week before the season starts so we will be fit and ready, but the result does not matter so much in pre-season. What is important is that we put in a good shift, work on what we need to, and continue to gel ahead of the new season."

The former Bolton man also paid tribute to Braga for achieving what he believes is massive breakthrough in Portuguese football - breaking the monopoly of the big three clubs FC Porto, Sporting and Benfica.

"What they have achieved is fantastic. They don't spend a lot of money compared to the top three but they have still managed to compete.

"Porto and Benfica have dominated for much of the last decade, and although Sporting do not spend as much money they always compete by producing fantastic young players on a regular basis.

"Braga were very impressive last season, they finished third in the league and were top during some points at the season.

"The way in which they've progressed over the past five years both domestically and in Europe, where they reached the Europa League final in 2011, has been fantastic.

"They will provide a good test for us and prepare us for the Premier League season where we will face a similar level of opposition week in week out."

The Hammers went down 3-1 to an impressive Ipswich Town side on Saturday, but Vaz Te feels positives can be taken even in defeat.

"I think pre-season has been going well, we can take a lot of positives from each game. We now need address the negatives from Saturday but our fitness and performances are improving every week.

"Overall our preparation has been good, the staff and set-up are great and everything we do has a purpose.

"We had a bad result but we will learn from that, we will work hard and do everything we can to ensure we hit the ground running on August 18."

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