Portugal, who have already secured a round-16 place in Qatar World Cup 2022, will face Korea Republic in their last Group H game on Friday. While they have booked their last-16 place, Fernando Santos, Portugal’s head coach, would like to secure the top-of-the-table position to avoid facing Brazil in next round.
Portugal have won both games so far in group stages are top of Group H with six points. The only team that can snatch their top position is Ghana who are currently on 3 points with one game to go. Ghana will play Uruguay who were currently last in the Group H table with just 1 point.
Fernando Santos is expected to rest some of his key players in the game against Korea Republic. Here are five talking points from his pre-match press conference.
Nuno Mendes will stay with the World Cup squad
Nuno Mendes, the Portugal talented left back, will take no further part in the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. He sustained a thigh injury in the game against Uruguay and was unlikely to recover in time for any further World Cup game for Portugal.
While it was already confirmed that Nuno Mendes is out of the World Cup, Fernando Santos revealed to the media that he will remain with the Portugal squad for the reminder of the Portugal’s World Cup.
“Nuno Mendes will remain with us because of his great will, it shows our unity. He is out of the World Cup.”
Players on yellow cards unlikely to play vs Korea Republic
Portugal has quite a few players who are one yellow card away from missing the round-16 game. These players are Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix and Ruben Neves, key players for Fernando Santos team.
As Portugal have already confirmed their last-16 place and are likely to finish as table toppers, Santos is going to bench these players as to avoid them being suspended for the much important knock-out round game.
Santos told the media that, “One or the other players (will be rested), playing every 4 days is hard and can cause injuries. We also have to evaluate the yellow card. I trust all the players (in squad).”
Ronaldo vs Korea Republic?
Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off in last quarter of both Portugal’s games in World Cup.
When asked about whether Cristiano will feature for Portugal vs Korea Republic, Santos responded that if he trains normaly he is likely to play.
“We will see. In principle, he will train soon, and if he trains normally, he is the part of the lot I have to choose from.”
“He was substituted in the first two games. There is a plan if Cristiano can not play. There is no one player on the squad that is always guaranteed to play.”
On Portugal’s much talked about first goal vs Uruguay
Portugal’s first goal vs Uruguay caused a lot of talk in the media as Ronaldo claimed to have touched the cross from Bruno Fernandes which ended up in Uruguay’s net.
There was news from Spain that Portugal have sent an official request to FIFA to award the goal to Ronaldo.
Fernando Santos denied any such news.
“I don’t know anyone from FIFA (laughs), nor did the national team ask.”
Otavio and Danilo out of the Korea game
Frenando Santos also confirmed that Otavio will miss Portugal last group stage match vs Korea Republic.
Meanwhile, Danilo has also failed to recover in time and will be unavailable for the game as well.
“There are at least 3 absenties for tommorow’s match, Nuno, Danilo and Otavio.” Santos confirmed to the media in his press conference.