Cristiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese and Manchester United star, said in an interview on Thursday night that there are “difficult fights” ahead if his country qualifies for the World Cup for the sixth time in a row.
Portugal, the 2016 European champions, will face Turkey in a semi-final in March against Italy, the team they replaced as king of the continent last year, ahead of a potential final.
“It would be very sad if we didn’t achieve our goal, which is the World Cup,” said the winner of the Golden Ball five times. ESPN Brazil.
Ronaldo has not lost a major international championship since making his Portuguese debut in 2003.
He has played in four World Cups and five European Cups, reaching the final in 2004.
“We go through difficult times in football and life but what matters is the ability to rise again,” the 36-year-old said.
“We know we have a tough fight, against Turkey first. And if we win, I think it will be against Italy. We’ll see. We’ll be ready in March, it’s going to be a fight, it’s going to be great for football fans.”
Portugal will host Turkey on March 24 and Italy will host Northern Macedonia five days after the final.
At least one of the last two European champions will not play in the World Cup in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December.
“That’s life, there’s no perfect scenario. We have to deal with things as they are,” said Ronaldo, who has experienced a mixed return to Old Trafford this season.
Despite a spectacular personal 14-goal comeback in 21 matches, United are relegated to seventh place in the Premier League, although they have reached the Champions League in the last 16 and the fourth round of the FA Cup.