Fernando Santos, the coach of Portugal, revealed he had a “frank conversation” with Cristiano Ronaldo to explain why he was dropping him, but insisted the veteran forward did not threaten to leave the World Cup..
According to reports in Portugal, Ronaldo was ready to abandon his country after learning he would be on the bench for the last-16 match against Switzerland.
The 37-year-old came on in the closing stages as Portugal won 6-1 to advance to the quarter-finals.
Santos revealed that he informed Ronaldo that he would not be starting the game on the day of the game, and admitted that convincing international football’s all-time leading scorer took some convincing..
“We did have a conversation, and it would have been very bad if we hadn’t had that conversation,” Santos said. That’s my approach since I took over. We needed to talk and have a close relationship with the players since I took over..
“He’s the captain of our team, and with what he represents for Portuguese football, the Portuguese people, and the national team, it was only natural for me to speak with him.”
So we had this conversation after lunch on match day. That was the only time we spoke, and I explained why he wouldn’t play. So he wouldn’t be surprised, we met and I explained why he wouldn’t be one of the starters..
In my office, I told him that it is better for strategy if he does not play, and that I would save him for the second half if necessary.
“Cristiano, for obvious reasons, was not pleased. He’s been a starter his entire career.
“‘Do you really think it’s a good idea?'”
‘However, we had a normal conversation.’ I explained my points of view, and he agreed. We had an open and honest discussion.
He has never expressed a desire to leave our national team. I believe it is past time to end this conversation and these polemics, because what he did during the match is an example of what I just said..
Even though he wasn’t playing, he was warming up with the players. He congratulated us on all of our accomplishments. Finally, it was he who invited his colleagues to thank the fans.
It’s past time to let it go.”
In an attempt to shift the focus away from Ronaldo and toward Saturday’s quarter-final against Morocco, Portugal forward Joao Felix echoed his manager’s sentiments.
“It’s been discussed enough,” he said.
We haven’t reached the quarter-finals in a long time, and we should all be working together to improve the situation.”
Morocco coach Walid Regragui stated that despite Portugal’s outstanding performance without Ronaldo, he would prefer not to see his country’s name on the team sheet..
Goncalo Ramos, his replacement, scored a stunning hat-trick, while Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, and Rafael Leao also scored.
Nonetheless, Regragui stated, “We are going to play one of the best teams in the world with one of the best players in history, so we know it will be difficult, but we will give it our all to try to pull off a surprise.”
I’m not sure if Ronaldo will play, but as a coach, I hope he doesn’t. I’ll be happy if he doesn’t play.”
Regragui has not ruled out West Ham defender Nayef Aguerd, who left the penalty shootout win over Spain with an injury, for Saturday’s match.
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