The Portugal manager says he has no regrets benching Cristiano Ronaldo
Morocco defeated Portugal 1-0 in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
Experienced striker Cristiano Ronaldo was absent from the game from the start.
After the defeat, Portugal head coach Fernando Santos stuck to the decision not to start Ronaldo, according to ESPN’s Rob Dawson.
“I don’t think so, no regrets,” said Santos. “I think it was a team that played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, he came when we felt it was necessary, so we have no regrets.”
Ronaldo came on as a substitute in the 51st minute and made a shot in 11 touches in the 39 minutes he played. He was in tears as he left Portugal’s defeat on Saturday.
“If we take two people who were the most upset, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo and I,” said Santos. “Of course we’re upset, but that’s part of the job of the coach and the player.”
Ronaldo started each of Portugal’s three group games until he was benched in the round of 16 against Switzerland.
Gonçalo Ramos took Ronaldo’s place and scored three goals in the 6-1 win.
“These are different players,” said the coach after the win. “It was game strategy.”
After looking very upset when he was substituted in the 65th minute of Portugal’s defeat by South Korea, Ronaldo was subsequently reported to be planning to leave the team.
Speaking at a press conference on the eve of the round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland, Santos admitted he “really didn’t like” Ronaldo’s reaction to the squad change but the rumors were false.
With it being widely known that this is likely to be the last World Cup game for 37-year-old Ronaldo, Santos tried to shut down speculation with a reminder of Ronaldo’s contributions to Portuguese football.
“It’s time we stopped this conversation and the controversy. He celebrated every goal we scored,” said Santos. “It’s time you left Ronaldo alone to acknowledge what he’s done for Portuguese football.”