The Manchester United superstar, 37, is in danger of missing out after blowing automatic qualification when his country were beaten to top spot in Group A by Serbia. Euro 2016 winners Portugal now need to win two tough play-off games, first against Turkey before a potential showdown with current European Champions Italy, to make what could be Ronaldo’s final major tournament on the world stage.
But the marksman, who recently became FIFA’s all-time record goalscorer, posted on Instagram : “Total focus on World Cup 2022. Proud as always to represent Portugal. We know the road won’t be easy, we have the utmost respect for the 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.”
Ronaldo scored six times in the group stages – more than any of his compatriots. With seven goals across four tournaments, the iconic No.7 is Portugal’s second highest goalscorer in World Cup history – second only to the legendary Eusebio who racked up nine goals.
But if Portugal are to make it to this year’s showpiece it will have to be without a string of their key men. Both Joao Cancelo and Renato Sanches will miss the Turkey game after picking up suspensions. They’ve been joined on the absentee list by another four high-profile names. Ruben Dias and Nelson Semedo are still recovering from injury lay-offs, veteran defender Pepe has contracted Covid and midfielder Ruben Neves picked up a knock in Wolves ’ dramatic defeat to Leeds last Friday.
Ronaldo made his first appearance for Portugal against Kazakhstan in August 2003 and has won a total of 184 caps for his country, scoring 115 goals in the process. Although the furthest he has been in a World Cup is the semi-finals of the 2006 tournament in Germany where Portugal were beaten 1-0 by France.
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There have been suggestions that if Portugal fail to reach the World Cup this time around it could signal the end of Ronaldo’s international career with the former Real Madrid and Juventus man ready to hang up his boots. However, when he was asked about the subject last year Ronaldo appeared to suggest he may play on.
When asked about retiring from international football Ronaldo said in an interview with Sky Sports: “But why? I think it’s not my time yet. It’s not what people want, it’s what I want. It’s when I feel that I’m not capable to run, to dribble, to shoot, if the power is gone… but I still have that stuff so I want to continue because I’m still motivated.
“It’s the main word – [motivated] to do my stuff, to make people happy and my family happy and the fans and myself. I want to put the level even higher It’s the main word – [motivated] to do my stuff, to make people happy and my family happy and the fans and myself. I want to put the level even higher.”