Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup hopes are in jeopardy after his nation lost a crucial qualifier to Serbia.

Portugal fell into the play-offs after finishing second in their group, and must now win a semi-final and a final in order to qualify for Qatar.

Now his international boss Fernando Santos has promised to quit if they fail to make the play-offs.

Fernando Santos
(Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Speaking to TVI, reported by Portuguese outlet Publico, Santos said: “If I don’t qualify, I’ll leave on my own initiative.

“On the day that any objective is not met, there will not even be a conversation. I go out on my own foot. There is a commitment made.

“As long as we fulfill our goals, let’s stay together. The day I don’t comply, I go out.”

Huge pressure

Santos is under huge pressure and there may be some Portuguese fans who would rather he goes now.

He does have some favour, after winning Euro 2016, but this is beginning to expire.


This could be Ronaldo’s last opportunity to play at the World Cup, and even if he is still playing in 2026, he is far less likely to be able to lead his side to win it.

Portugal find out their play-off opponents in the draw to be made next Thursday.

They are one of six seeded teams, along with  Italy, Scotland, Russia, Sweden, Wales, meaning they will avoid them for the semi-finals, for which they will also have home advantage.

Portugal’s semi will be against one Poland, North Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, Austria, and Czech Republic.

Poland would be the most dangerous side, with veteran striker Robert Lewandowski also in a last chance saloon to make what could be his final World Cup.

Ronaldo’s club manager is also under pressure, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needing an upturn in form to stave off speculation about the Manchester United manager role.

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