Dhaka Abahani coach Lemos thinks Ronaldo can’t carry Portugal in World Cup

Goals have dried up at both club and national levels for the Portugal captain

Mohammad Jubearbdnews24.com
Published : 16 Nov 2022, 02:55 PM
Updated : 16 Nov 2022, 02:55 PM

Dhaka Abahani Ltd's Portuguese coach Mário Lemos is hoping that Cristiano Ronaldo will produce something special in Qatar but believes it is unlikely that he can carry the team all by himself in the World Cup.

Fernando Santos’s men kick off their campaign against Ghana on Nov 24 in Doha’s Ras Abu Aboud Stadium.

The Manchester United forward boasts the highest appearance for Portugal with 191 matches and 117 goals, a national record. But at 37 years of age, Ronaldo’s pace, reflex and strength are not what they used to be.

“It’s Ronaldo's last World Cup. Hopefully, he can do something but I don’t think he will be making a difference,” said Lemos, a former interim coach of the Bangladesh national team.

Ronaldo is not a regular at Erik Ten Hag’s playing eleven while worrying reports of conflict with the manager during his stay at Old Trafford have come to the fore. He made just 10 appearances for the Red Devils this season scoring only one goal.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, second only to Lionel Messi’s seven, was the lynchpin for Portugal’s success in the Euro 2016 and Nations League 2019. But Ronaldo’s recent stats in national colours have been short of inspiring as he failed to find the net in eight of his last nine games.

Portugal had to advance to the finals this year the hard way. A defeat to Serbia in their last qualifiers tie thrust the Seleção das Quinas into the playoffs where they beat Turkey 3-1 and North Macedonia 2-0 to book a ticket to Qatar.

Portugal are pitted in Group H alongside Ghana, South Korea and two-time champions Uruguay and should get through to the last 16 without much struggle as the strongest team in the pool on papers. But 36-year-old Lemos was not too optimistic about the odds of Portugal making it far in the competition.

Santos picked a dynamic mixture of personnel across the field with Manchester City duo Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias alongside Pepe at the back, another City pair Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes in the midfield and Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix and AC Milan man Rafael Leao up front led by Ronaldo.

In England 1966, Eusébio drove Portugal to third place with nine goals through the tournament. It was their best finish in the showpiece event. Luis Figo and Pauleta led the team to fourth in Germany 2006.

Lemos would not name Portugal among the top 10 teams in this year’s competition. “The teams I’m looking to see are Brazil, Argentina and France.”

The five-time champions were the pick of his title contenders. “Brazil are my favourites. I believe they have a big chance to win the World Cup with a team packed with talent.”

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher