Saransk: Cristiano Ronaldo will look to fire his country into the last 16 of the World Cup Monday at the expense of former Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz and Iran.
Ronaldo and Queiroz are both appearing at their fourth World Cup, as player and coach respectively, and their relationship dates back to the Portugal captain’s arrival as a teenager at Manchester United in 2003.
The 65-year-old served as Alex Ferguson’s assistant over two spells either side of a brief stint in charge of Real Madrid, the club Ronaldo joined in 2009 in a deal Queiroz helped facilitate.
But their relationship soured following a second-round exit to Spain at the 2010 World Cup, after which Ronaldo suggested Queiroz was to blame for the defeat.
Portugal then crashed out in the group stage four years ago in Brazil, but Ronaldo is single-handedly leading their quest in Russia with all four of his team’s goals so far.
We will keep on working for our dreamsto qualify for the second round. We know it will be difficult. Against Portugal, it will be match point for us
Carlos Queiroz/Iran coach
Portugal coach Fernando Santos compared his talisman to a bottle of ‘Port wine’, marvelling at the 33-year-old’s ability to refine his game with age.
Portugal need a draw to be sure of a place in the knockout phase, with either hosts Russia or Uruguay awaiting them in the next round should they advance. The Portuguese played out thrilling 3-3 stalemate with Spain in their campaign opener before edging past Morocco by a solitary goal.
Iran, who beat Morocco 1-0 before falling to Spain by the same scoreline, must beat Portugal to reach the latter stages of the World Cup for the first time.
- Queiroz, who also took South Africa to the 2002 finals, called it the most interesting and important match in my seven years with Iran.
- Ronaldo scored a late penalty to seal a 2-0 win over Iran when the two sides last met at the 2006 World Cup
- Portugal could be without experienced midfielder Joao Moutinho who missed team’s training Saturday due to illness.