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I only decide who is going to be captain when I reach the stadium: Portugal coach refuses to divulge if Cristiano Ronaldo will lead against Switzerland

Last Friday in Portugal's defeat to South Korea, Ronaldo was withdrawn midway through the second half. While going out, he had put an index finger to his lips as and later said he was irked by the opposition striker Cho Gue-sung for asking him to speed up his exit.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures as he leaves the pitch after being substituted during the World Cup group H soccer match between South Korea and Portugal, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
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Cristiano Ronaldo remains in the eye of the proverbial storm before Portugal’s last 16 match against Switzerland on Tuesday, with coach Fernando Santos saying that he did not like the gestures that the 37-year-old talisman made while he was being substituted against South Korea.

Last Friday in Portugal’s defeat to South Korea, Ronaldo was withdrawn midway through the second half. While going out, he had put an index finger to his lips as and later said he was irked by the opposition striker Cho Gue-sung for asking him to speed up his exit.

“What happened was before my substitution, the South Korea player told me to get off quickly. I told him to shut up as he doesn’t have that authority. There was no disagreement (with the coach),” Ronaldo was quoted as saying by Portuguese reporters.

“Yes, I did not like it, not at all. I really did not like it and from that moment on that issue is finished,” Santos said when asked about his comments on the situation during a pre-match press conference on Monday.

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The coach also refused to comment on speculation back home about whether Ronaldo would feature in his lineup against the Swiss on Tuesday, would start on the bench or if he would skipper the side.

“I only decide who is going to be captain when I reach the stadium,” Santos said. “I still don’t know what the lineup will be. That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what I’m always going to do and it’s going to be the same tomorrow. The other topic is solved. We have fixed that in-house and that’s it.”

Ronaldo, who left Manchester United by mutual consent last month following a controversial interview, was linked with a potential move to Saudi Arabia but Santos said he knew nothing about it.

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“I have not spoken to him about this. I don’t know about this. It is his decision. I did not even know about this and I heard about this when I arrived here. We are focused on the World Cup. I don’t know anything about this other issue,” the coach said.

First published on: 05-12-2022 at 20:55 IST
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