Stop The Polemics, Leave Cristiano Alone: Santos| MENAFN.COM

Tuesday, 31 January 2023 10:26 GMT

Stop The Polemics, Leave Cristiano Alone: Santos

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) #qatar 2022 #world cup teams ayeni olusegun | The Peninsula

Portugal coach Fernando Santos has admonished the media for persistent reports and questions about Cristiano Ronaldo, adding the striker should be left alone.

Speaking to reporters yesterday ahead of their quarter-final clash against Morocco, Santos also debunked reports that Ronaldo had threatened to leave the national team after being dropped from the starting line-up of their Round of 16 win over Switzerland. The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) also denied the incident
ever happened.

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“He has never told me that he wanted to leave our national team, and as Joao Felix said, I think it's high time we stop with this conversation and the polemics,” Santos said of Ronaldo, who is Portugal's most-capped player (195) and all-time leading goalscorer (118).

“He decided to warm up with his colleagues even if he knew he wasn't starting. He applauded all the goals, you could see him and Joao Mario clapping, and he invited his colleagues to appreciate the fans. It's time to leave Cristiano alone and appreciate what he has done for his country,” he added.

Much has been made of Santos' decision to sit the superstar in their last match. His replacement, Goncalo Ramos, went on to net a hat-trick.

Asked how the conversation with Ronaldo starting from the bench went, Santos said,“Yes, we did have a conversation, and it would have been bad if we had not.”

“Since I took the helm, we needed to talk and have a relationship with the players. In this case, the conversation needed to happen. He's the captain, we know what he represents for the national team, and naturally, I needed to talk to him.”

Santos added that he spoke to Ronaldo after lunch on the day of the match against Switzerland.

“After lunch, we met in my office, and I explained why he would not be one of the starters; I explained to him so he won't be surprised. I told him in terms of the strategy it's better for him not to be in the field of play... I did it naturally, as I did with the players. He obviously was not happy about it, and he told me, Do you really think it's a good idea?

“But we had a normal conversation, and he accepted,” Santos added.

Meanwhile, Joao Felix, one of the standout stars from the Round of 16 win, also insisted playing with Ronaldo does not put additional pressure on the young players to give him the ball, contrary to reports in Portugal.

“I don't feel that,” Felix said.“I don't feel it is mandatory to pass to Cristiano. Whether he's on or not, it also depends on how we play as a team, so it doesn't matter.

“We are in a great competition and haven't reached the quarter-final in a long time; I think we should be together and not try to make the national team worse,” he added, addressing Portuguese media outlets.


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