While Ronaldo is preparing for his first and only World Cup 2018 warm-up match against Algeria, the journey in Russia begins for a certain familiar face…
That face carries the name of Carlos Queiroz. Dejected Portuguese fans would remember how the manager’s questionable leadership resulted in a disastrous campaign for the Seleccao during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
It was a trip to forget. Performances were poor. The 7-0 massacre of North Korea on Matchday 2 did little to downplay the team’s uninspired display in their boring goalless draws against Group G opponents Ivory Coast and Brazil. In the Round of 16, controversial officiating coupled with Carlos Queiroz’s negative tactics caused a played-out-of-position Ronaldo to storm out of the pitch in fury.
A few months later, the Portuguese FA parted company with Alex Ferguson’s former assistant coach. And with this departure were crushed all hopes of seeing Queiroz and Ronaldo enjoying success at the national level like they did when they worked together at Manchester United.
Many things have changed since 2010. Ronaldo and the Portuguese national team — currently European champions — have evolved, and so has Carlos Queiroz whose management of Iran since 2011 has guided the AFC members to their second consecutive FIFA World Cup finals.
This summer, the two men will be rivals as Portugal and the Iranians are both located in Group B. They will lock horns at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk on Matchday 3. How important would that fixture turn out to be in terms of Last 16 stakes?
Kick-off time is displayed in GMT (UTC +0/ET +4)
Meanwhile, after becoming the first Asian nation to qualify for this summer’s tournament, Carlos Queiroz and Team Melli have also become the first 2018 FIFA World Cup contenders to arrive in Russia.
“The Iranian national team will relish rubbing shoulders with the best teams in the world and being part of this fantastic World Cup family,” Cristiano Ronaldo’s ex-manager was quoted as saying by FIFA.com upon landing in the host country.
“We arrive raring to keep this dream going for as long as possible and we look forward to playing our part in making this the best World Cup ever.”
As the skipper of the Portuguese national team, CR7’s mission will be to turn Iran’s campaign into a nightmare if the final clash of Group B holds much to play for.