Por­tu­gal with­out Ron­aldo for Mex­ico play-off

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal will have to make do with­out captain Cris­tiano Ron­aldo as they seek the con­so­la­tion of a third-place fin­ish in to­day’s Con­der­a­tions Cup play-off against Mex­ico.

The Real Madrid star was ex­cused from the squad fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day’s penalty shootout defeat to Chile in the semi-fi­nals, re­turn­ing home to meet his new­born twins. The 32-year-old, who al­ready has a seven-year-old son, Cris­tiano Ron­aldo Jnr, from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship, is be­lieved to have fa­thered the twins with a sur­ro­gate mother in the United States.

“We knew he was hav­ing fam­ily mat­ters at home,” Por­tu­gal man­ager Fer­nando San­tos told a news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day. “Ob­vi­ously it was an im­por­tant mo­ment in his life to have these chil­dren, whom he hasn’t seen yet.

“And as we failed to reach the fi­nal here the pres­i­dent of our foot­ball fed­er­a­tion and me de­cided that it will be a nice ges­ture to give him a chance to be with his fam­ily.”

Por­tu­gal are of­ten ac­cused of re­ly­ing heav­ily on Ron­aldo, but they claimed their first ma­jor ti­tle with­out their in­jured tal­is­man when they beat France 1-0 af­ter ex­tra­time in last year’s Euro 2016 fi­nal.

Borus­sia Dort­mund’s Raphael Guer­reiro is also miss­ing for Por­tu­gal through in­jury, but vet­eran de­fender Pepe re­turns af­ter he was sus­pended for the Chile clash.

“It will be a game with the same com­mit­ment with the same will­ing­ness to win from both sides, I be­lieve,” said San­tos. “None of us wanted to play this game as our main goal was to reach the fi­nal. But as we failed to get that re­sult we have to be mo­ti­vated for Sun­day’s en­counter.

“We have the same ob­jec­tive as we have had in the last two and a half years to play for the win in ev­ery game.” Mex­ico’s Hec­tor Moreno headed a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Por­tu­gal in the group stage, and San­tos is well aware of the threat posed by the Gold Cup hold­ers.

“Mex­ico had an ex­cel­lent tour­na­ment in the group stage, and even in the game against Ger­many they looked a very dy­namic team that al­ways tries to win the game they’re play­ing.

“They’re a team with a lot of de­ter­mi­na­tion. But I hope that to­mor­row my team will be able to score while not con­ced­ing any goals, un­like in our first meet­ing here.”

Mex­ico are ap­pear­ing at their sev­enth Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup and are hop­ing to re­store their pride af­ter Thurs­day’s 4-1 semi-fi­nal defeat against world cham­pi­ons Ger­many.

Mex­ico, who won the tour­na­ment in 1999, have fallen be­hind in each of their four matches in Rus­sia but will wel­come back captain An­dres Guardado, who was banned for the Ger­many game. —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.