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Portugal boss axed following World Cup exit

Fernando Santos has been relieved of his duties, it has been announced

Fernando Santos has been sacked as Portugal manager less than a week after his team were dumped out of the FIFA World Cup by Morocco at the quarterfinal stage, it has been confirmed.

A social media message issued by the Portuguese football association confirmed Santos’ departure on Thursday in which he was thanked for contributing to an “historical legacy” in Portuguese football. 

Portugal were among the favorites to lift the trophy in Qatar but couldn’t sustain a challenge despite finishing top of Group H after beating both Uruguay and Ghana in their opening fixtures.

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However, Santos’ side suffered defeat in their final group game against South Korea – a match which appeared to have ignited a row between the coach and his captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was dragged off after an hour following a below par performance by the ex-Manchester United man.

Santos was said to be extremely unhappy with Ronaldo’s behavior after his withdrawal and opted to keep his star man on the substitutes’ bench for their 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland in the last 16 as well as their stunning defeat to Morocco. 

The 68-year-old had presided over 109 games for Portugal since his appointment in 2014, winning 67 of them and leading the team to the Euro 2016 title two years after assuming the role.

He also won the 2019 UEFA Nations League tournament but was eliminated from Euro 2020 (which was held in 2021 due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic) in the last 16. 

As for who will replace him, speculation online has suggested that Jose Mourinho would be the preferred option of the Portuguese footballing hierarchy, although it would remain to be seen if the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss could be tempted away from his role in Italy with Roma, or even if the Italian club would potentially allow Mourinho to take on both roles simultaneously. 

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Ronaldo saw his World Cup dream end in Qatar.
Ronaldo makes decision on Portugal future – media

It is thought that the Portuguese football association would like Santos’ replacement to be installed as soon as possible to allow the new man to identify new talent and tactical changes after their World Cup failure.

And the first order of business for whoever lands the job will likely be to assess the future of team captain, the soon to be 38-year-old Ronaldo, who hasn’t yet drawn a line through his future in international football. 

Ronaldo jointly holds the record for the most international caps in football history (196) as well as the sole record for the most goals ever scored in international games (118). 

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December 15, 2022 at 11:28PM
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