Ronaldo paints bleak picture of Portugal’s prospects

Real Madrid star discounts team’s chances after 2-2 draw with US.


Afp June 23, 2014

MANAUS:


Portugal are not good enough to win the World Cup, admitted their world footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo after Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw with the US.


The 29-year-old Real Madrid superstar – whose fitness has been a hot source of debate – kept his country’s slim hopes of reaching the second round alive with a sublime cross which was headed home by Silvestre Varela in the dying seconds of time added on.

The Portuguese, who were hammered 4-0 by Germany in their opening game, must beat Ghana and hope there is a winner from the other match between Germany and the Americans – who both have four points – on Thursday to leave the second qualifying spot down to goal difference.

However, Ronaldo said even reaching the second round will not presage a revival that will see them lift the World Cup trophy for the first time.

“Portugal were never favourites,” said Ronaldo.

“I never thought we would be world champions. We have to be humble and recognise our limitations. There are things we cannot do, like running faster or having more quality.

“At the moment, there are better teams and better players than our own. We’ve also had setbacks here, with the suspension of Pepe and the injury to Fabio Coentrao.”

Ronaldo, who had an outstanding season for Real that culminated with the ‘meringues’ 10th Champions League trophy, said he could have taken the easy way out and not come to the finals given his fitness concerns.

“It could have been a lot easier for me, I could have not come to the World Cup and I would have sat at home as a Champions League winner.

“Instead, I answered my country’s call as always,” said Ronaldo, who inspired the Portuguese to a surprise run to the Euro 2012 semi-finals.

Individual players not to be blamed, says coach

Portugal coach Paulo Bento also sprang to his captain’s defence, denying it was his patchy form which has been responsible for them clinging on to hopes of qualifying only by their fingernails.

“He was fit and he played 90 minutes,” said Bento, who signed an extension to his contract taking him up to 2016 prior to the finals.

“I don’t think the problem with the displays lies with him. What happened has more to do with other players. The match has to be analysed from a broader perspective. I do not want to talk about individual cases and on one performance in particular.

“This is not the time to separate individual performances and the level of the team. There was not one player worse than the others. They are sad at the moment and it is not the time to criticise them.

“If there is somebody you want to criticise, then it is me, the coach.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2014.

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