Cristiano Ronaldo has issued a rallying cry ahead of Portugal’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Turkey this week.
Portugal will play Turkey on Thursday March 24 in Porto and the winner will play either Italy or North Macedonia in the World Cup play-off finals next week for a place at Qatar 2022, which kicks off in November.
Ronaldo posted on his Instagram page, as he calls on Portugal to keep World Cup hopes alive.
PORTUGAL INJURY CRISIS
Portugal will be without Ruben Dias, Ruben Neves and Nelson Semedo against Turkey with the trio all injured.
Dias and Semedo have been absent for a number of weeks, while Neves suffered a knee injury in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Friday defeat against Leeds United.
Portugal were already without Joao Cancelo and Renato Sanches, with the pair picking up suspensions. Both players were booked in the 2-1 home defeat against Serbia in November, having been cautioned earlier in the competition.
And now things have got even worse, with the news that veteran defender Pepe has tested positive for Covid-19.
The centre-back is expected to be available for the second of the two play-off games(against Italy or Macedonia) with Sanches and Cancelo also available only if they Turkey.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos describes the coming days as the most important challenge of his time in charge.
“This is the most important challenge I had as Portugal manager. Not the most difficult, the most important. We must be in the World Cup for our people. The tickets were sold out in minutes more than a month ago. Our fans will be a major factor and we can’t let them down.”
In his eight years as Portugal manager, Santos won the 2016 European Championship and reached the last-16 at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.