Portugal have been dealt with huge blow after their crucial win over Uruguay, as their coach Fernando Santos has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo is a doubt for the next game. The Selecaos next face South Korea in their final group stage fixture, having secured a knockout berth already by picking two wins from first two games against Ghana and Uruguay. Cristiano Ronaldo was center to both of Portugal’s triumphs, having won and scored a penalty against Ghana, and coming inches away from netting another against Uruguay.
In what could be his last ever FIFA World Cup tournament, Ronaldo has enjoyed a brilliant start with his nation, leading them to two straight wins in their first two games at a World Cup finals for the first time since 2006. Add to it, he also set a record by becoming first player in the history of the sport to score at five different World Cup tournaments. Just when it was looking all good for the Portuguese captain, he now faces a race against the time to be fit for South Korea game.
Santos not sure Cristiano Ronaldo plays against South Korea or not
Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a lot of things going on with his club career. His explosive interview with Piers Morgan, where he heavily slammed Manchester United for “betraying” him, and manager Erik ten Hag for not respecting him, alongside some criticism for the ex Red Devils players had a deep impact on the Portuguese dressing, per multiple reports. He had also missed United’s final two outings before the World Cup break due to ‘illness’, as was revealed by Ten Hag.
Moreover, days before Portugal played their World Cup opener against Ghana, Manchester United and Ronaldo announced that they have parted ways after agreeing a mutual contract termination. This sent more tremors down the Portuguese squad, who feared their captain might not be in the best state of his mind. But the 37-year-old forward lead his nation out of the tunnel against the African side, and also scored their opening goal.
The Uruguay game too was fine for Ronaldo, who thought he had netted his second of the tournament from a Bruno Fernandes cross. But in the end, the goal was awarded to Fernandes, resulting in a bittersweet moment for Ronaldo. Fernando Santos then subbed-off the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in the 82md minute, as he had done against Ghana, where Ronaldo came off in the 88th minute. He has now missed the national team’s training ahead of the Korea clash, and was rather doing “specific recovery work”. An injury scare has surfaced now for the prolific striker, as Santos explained in his recent presser:
“Let’s see. In principle, Ronaldo will train soon. I don’t even know if it’s 50/50 [the probability of being fit for the game]. If you train normally. Cristiano Ronaldo was replaced in both games. There’s a plan in case Cristiano can’t play. There is no player guaranteed to play at all time. It would hardly run if we didn’t have a plan.”
This could leave a huge impact on the Portuguese side, despite their qualification to the knockouts. The former Real Madrid player has been doing all the right things at the ongoing tournament, and is rather looking in high spirits after leaving United. But his injury now comes as a headache for Santos, who despite claiming that he has a ‘plan’ in place to go ahead without Ronaldo. The trio of Otavio, Danilo Pereira and Nuno Mendes too have skipped the training, with the left-back ruled out for the rest of the tournament. Santos will have to carefully plan his line-up against South Korea, with an eye on the last-16 tie.