Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to do everything possible ahead of Portugal's crucial FIFA World Cup 2022 playoff semi-final against Turkey on Thursday night. The Seleccao host the Crescent Stars in Porto later tonight in the semis of Path C, with the winner taking on either Italy or North Macedonia in the final next week.
Manchester United ace Ronaldo is aiming for a final swansong in the competition. However, he faces a daunting road just to get there, with the real possibility of missing the flight to Qatar altogether.
The Selecao were beaten by Serbia in their final group game at home as they ceded top place and a direct berth in Qatar.
However, ahead of their game with Turkey tonight, Ronaldo sounded upbeat in a post on his Instagram handle. He also urged fans to keep their faith in the team, writing:
"It's no secret to anyone: representing my country is always a very special moment for me. Raise the name of Portugal very high, bring joy and pride to all Portuguese; show our young people that nothing is impossible! Believe in us, believe in our Selection. We will do everything to correspond to your support… Come on Portugal!"
Turkey, who sit 31 places below Portugal in the world rankings, are coming into this game on the back of a three-game winning run. They finished second in Group G of the UEFA qualifiers, behind only the Netherlands, and are aiming for their first FIFA World Cup appearance since 2002.
Portugal, meanwhile, have played in every edition of the competition since then, with Ronaldo playing a part in four of them. Now, in what could be his last appearance on the world stage, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner will not even get the chance to participate if Portugal don't win their next two games.
Ronaldo facing the most important games of his career
Tonight, and the one next week if Portugal advance, will be the most important fixtures of Ronaldo's international career. The 37-year-old has been in this position before, going through the daunting playoffs to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.
However, they faced relatively easy opposition in Bosnia and Sweden. This time around, the Seleccao could face heavyweights Italy in the final, with the Azzurri looking to make a comeback after missing the edition in Russia four years ago.
It would be a huge disappointment for the Portugal captain if his team fail to qualify in what could be his final appearance at a major tournament.
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