Cristiano Ronaldo has urged his Portugal teammates to fight for a place in the World Cup ahead of the make-or-break qualifiers. Having finished second in their group in dramatic circumstances, Portugal will now have to go through the gruelling playoffs.
The Euro 2016 winners will take on Turkey in their World Cup qualifier on Thursday, March 24 in Porto.
It does not get any easier for Cristiano Ronaldo’s side as they will have to face either Italy or North Macedonia if they manage to get past Turkey.
Ronaldo, who is Manchester United’s top scorer this season with 18 goals despite his advanced age, has since linked up with his international teammates. Ahead of the clash, the 37-year old took to Instagram with a message to teammates.
“Total focus on World Cup 2022,” he started.
“Proud as always to represent Portugal. We know the road won’t be easy; we have the utmost respect for opponents we will face and who share the same goals as us. But together, we will fight to put Portugal in our rightful place. Let’s do this,” he added.
Portugal’s Injury Crisis
Fernando Santos’ side is however sweating over the fitness of several key Portugal players. Portugal are certain to be without Renato Sanches and Joan Cancelo as the pair picked up suspensions after being booked in the 2-1 home defeat against Serbia in November 2021.
Nelson Semedo, Ruben Dias and Ruben Neves are also likely to sit out the game with injuries. Neves was the latest injury addition after picking up a knee injury during the defeat to Leeds on Friday, March 18.
Worse still, Pepe recently tested positive for COVID-19 but should be available for the second play-off game should Portugal get past Turkey. That leaves Fernando Santos’ side without six senior players ahead of Thursday’s match.