Cristiano Ronaldo will once again pull on the captain’s armband as Portugal head to the World Cup in Qatar. The star forward has been named by head coach Fernando Santos to lead his nation in his fifth World Cup campaign.
The 37-year-old may be showing a few signs of slowing down as his career heads towards its sunset years, and he will not be the only veteran in Santos’s side, with 39-year-old central defender Pepe also named in the squad.
They will be joined by Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix.
But Joao Moutinho, José Fonte and Renato Sanches have all been left out of the 26-man squad getting on the plane. There was heartbreak, too, for Liverpool forward Diogo Jota, who has been ruled out of a Qatar run due to injury.
“What can Portugal really achieve?” Santos asked reporters gathered in Cidade do Futebol in Oeiras. “I will answer in a very simple way – and that is to be world champions. I believe that is possible, my players also believe in it, and therefore that is what this team can achieve.”
It is not that all experienced players are making the journey to Qatar – 19-year-old Benfica defender Antonio Silva has received his first call-up and will be closely watched by club talent scouts from around the world.
Portugal earned their first major international trophy at the 2016 European Championship, and also won the inaugural Nations League at home in 2019. But the team failed to get past the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup and then fell on the same stage in Euro 2020.
Santos defended his selection choices for the Qatar 2022 campaign, hoping either to shoulder the blame for failure, or bask in the glory of victory. “I do all the choosing in this case so, naturally, I assume all responsibilities,” he said. “If all goes well, I’m responsible. If not, which will not be the case, I will also be responsible.”
The Portugal team in full:
- Diogo Costa (Porto)
- Rui Patricio (Roma)
- José Sa (Wolverhampton)
- Diogo Dalot (Manchester United)
- Danilo Pereira (PSG)
- Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
- Antonio Silva (Benfica)
- Pepe (Porto)
- Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
- Nuno Mendes (PSG)
- Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
- William Carvalho (Real Betis)
- Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton)
- Otavio Monteiro (Porto)
- Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
- Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton)
- Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
- Joao Mario (Benfica)
- Joao Palhinha (Fulham)
- Vitinha (PSG)
- André Silva (Leipzig)
- Ricardo Horta (Braga)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
- Joao Felix (Atlético Madrid)
- Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
- Goncalo Ramos (Benfica)