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Portugal coach has no regrets on Ronaldo snub

Fernando Santos dropped Ronaldo for Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against Morocco at Qatar 2022

Portugal coach Fernando Santos has stated that he does not regret leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for the majority of the 1-0 loss to Morocco that saw their country crash out of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

Giant killers Morocco added another scalp to their growing list of European victims at the Al-Thumama Stadium thanks to a first half header from Youssef En-Nesyri that went unanswered.

Ronaldo was dropped for the second game running in favor of 21-year-old Benfica target man Goncalo Ramos, who scored a hat trick in a 6-1 last 16 thrashing of Switzerland.

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With Portugal trailing, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner entered at around 50 minutes but was unable to make an impact as Morocco made history as the first African and Arab nation to reach the semi-finals of FIFA’s showpiece tournament.

Pressed on overlooking international football’s all-time highest scorer Ronaldo in his post-match press conference, Santos boldly stated: “I do not regret (leaving Ronaldo on the bench).”

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“It wouldn’t change anything. In terms of the team I can’t be thinking with my heart.

“I used the team that played really well against Switzerland and there was no reason to change it.

“The strategic decision that I had to make was one of the hardest, but I can’t think with my heart, I have to think with my head.

“It’s not that Ronaldo is no longer a great player, that has nothing to do with it,” Santos added.

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Ronaldo was seen storming off the pitch in a fit of tears given that, at age 37, he is unlikely to play for his country again at the World Cup.

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Youssef En-Nesyri celebrates after scoring the team's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final
Morocco make history in stunning World Cup win against Portugal

Santos’ future is likewise in the air, but he refused to reveal whether he will resign ahead of talking with the Portuguese FA next week.

He gave the Moroccans credit for their impeccable defensive display and noted that “sometimes in football what you need is a little bit of luck.”

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“We showed effort and quality, had several chances to score with Joao Felix, and Bruno Fernandes hit the bar, Pepe had a header in the end that could have been the equalizer… A bit of luck was missing,” he added.

December 11, 2022 at 06:44PM
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