Can you imagine a World Cup without Cristiano Ronaldo? Portugal lost to Serbia 1-2 in the eighth match of Group A qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup held in Lisbon on Monday. Portugal had 17 points along with Serbia but was ranked No. 1 with one more goal until the seventh match. However, Serbia took the lead in the group with Portugal’s loss and secured a spot in the World Cup tournament. In the European qualifiers, only the top team of each group heads to the tournament. Ten second-ranked teams of groups and the top two teams of the UEFA Nations League will compete against each for three spots for the World Cup in the playoff next March.
Ronaldo had played in the World Cup tournament four consecutive times from the 2006 World Cup in Germany to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Given his age, the upcoming World Cup might be his last. Portugal, which is aiming for its sixth consecutive chance to play at the World Cup, struggled to make it to the tournament during the last two times. In a qualifier for the 2018 World Cup, it secured a spot to play in the tournament with a 2-0 win in the final match against Switzerland. Its qualifier for Brazil World Cup was even more dramatic. In the second playoff against Sweden, Ronaldo scored a hat trick and led the team to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
After the Monday game, Ronaldo could not hide his frustration. When Fernando Santos, the manager of the Portugal national team, offered a handshake to Ronaldo, the footballer opened his arms and expressed his anger. He sat down in the field for a while without leaving the stadium. “I want to show Portugal’s presence in the World Cup again for the country and its people,” said Ronaldo.
Serbia secured its second consecutive spot in the World Cup tournament with Aleksandar Mitrović’s dramatic tie-breaking goal at the 45th minute of the second half with a score of 1-1.
Dong-Wook Kim firstname.lastname@example.org