Portugal's coach has no regrets over leaving Ronaldo on the bench despite loss to Morocco

Fernando Santos left Ronaldo out of the starting XI in the quarter-final match

By Stats Perform

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Fernando Santos pats Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo on his back as he leaves the field after losing to Morocco 1-0. — AFP
Fernando Santos pats Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo on his back as he leaves the field after losing to Morocco 1-0. — AFP

Published: Sun 11 Dec 2022, 1:34 AM

Fernando Santos has "no regrets" over leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench despite Portugal crashing out of the World Cup with a 1-0 defeat to Morocco on Saturday.

Youssef En-Nesyri's header gave Morocco the lead in the 42nd minute, and Santos' Portugal side were unable to break through their opponent's resolute defence as they were eliminated at the quarter-final stage.


Santos left Ronaldo out of the starting XI for the 6-1 thumping of Switzerland in the round of 16, with his replacement Goncalo Ramos scoring a hat-trick.

The head coach omitted Ronaldo once again against Morocco, but this time Ramos failed to make an impact, as Portugal were dumped out despite Ronaldo's introduction shortly into the second half.


Asked if he regretted not starting Ronaldo, Santos told reporters: "No, I don't think so. I have no regrets, no regrets.

"This was a team that played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, he came in when we thought it was necessary. No, I have no regret."

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Ronaldo was left on the bench against Switzerland because of his negative reaction to being substituted against South Korea in Portugal's final group game.

The 37-year-old was heavily criticised after the round-of-16 match, but Santos does not feel that fan reaction had any influence on Ronaldo's limited impact against Morocco, after which the forward was shown in tears going down the tunnel.

"I do not think that the criticism he faced had any impact on the match," Santos added. "We have always been a team that is very united.

"If we take two people that were the most upset about the game, perhaps it was Cristiano and myself. We are upset of course, it affects us, but it's part of the game as a coach and a player."

Santos' contract as Portugal boss is due to expire in 2024, but it is rumoured he may resign after this World Cup exit.

Santos was asked whether he would quit as Portugal boss, to which he replied: "I have already discussed this with the president.

"Since 2014 the possibility of resignation has been discussed. This word is not part of our vocabulary.

"We did not go as far as we wanted, it's sad. Our team has great quality, we could have played better but there were games where we needed a touch of luck. That did not happen."


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