Cristiano Ronaldo could miss out on Portugal’s group H World Cup match against South Korea on Friday, December 2.
Portugal’s head coach, Fernando Santos has confirmed that the 37-year-old Portuguese captain may not feature in their final 2022 World Cup group-stage match against South Korea.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed Portugal’s training session on Wednesday ahead of their final group H clash with South Korea, and instead was spotted training in the gym alone.
Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has addressed the questions about Ronaldo missing training and revealed that the 37-year-old forward may not feature against South Korea.
The coach said Ronaldo’s availability for the Group H match is in doubt “50/50” after he missed training on Wednesday, November 30.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said: ”Let’s see. In principle, Ronaldo will train soon. If you’re in a position. I don’t even know if it is 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 times. It would hardly run if we didn’t have a plan.”
The former Manchester United attacker has started both games so far for the Portuguese at the World Cup tournament but has been substituted on both occasions.
In their opening game against Ghana, Ronaldo opened the score sheet via a ‘dubious’ penalty before he was replaced in the 88th minute after João Félix and Rafael Leão secured the three points as Ghana fought their way back into the 3-2 victory.
Likewise, Seleçao’s second match against Uruguay saw Ronaldo step things up for Portugal with the opening goal snatched away from him by FIFA, after concluding that Ronaldo didn’t get a touch on Bruno Fernandes’ cross into the box.
Meanwhile, there had been an upheaval over whether the five-time ballon d’Or holder managed to add to his World Cup goal tally against Uruguay.
The 37-year-old Portuguese forward claimed his side’s first goal against Uruguay, after believing he made contact with Fernandes’ cross to head past Sergio Rochet.
However, coach Santos further denied that Portugal’s FA put in a request to FIFA to give Ronaldo the first goal.
Santos said: ”I don’t know anyone from FIFA (laughs), nor did the national team ask.”
The Seleccao will take on South Korea on Friday in their final group-stage encounter and this might be the chance for Ronaldo to prove himself again as a record-breaker.
Ronaldo needs one goal to equal and two to break Eusebio’s record of Portugal’s all-time top goalscorer in the World Cup competition.
But it remains uncertain whether the five-time ballon d’Or holder would be in action to add more to his World Cup tally in the Portuguese final group stage encounter against South Korea.
Aside from his absence from training which Santos considered could make Ronaldo unfit, the Portuguese star has been battling with a minor knock and may not be risked unless he is fit.
Meanwhile, Portugal has already qualified for the round of 16 knockout phases, hence, Fernando Santos can afford the luxury to rest Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Seleccao will hope to make it three straight wins when they mount the pitch against South Korea to ensure they finish as Group H toppers.
Portugal will take on South Korea on Friday, December 2, in their last group-stage match at the Education City Stadium, with kickoff at 4 pm.