Portugal icon, Cristiano Ronaldo, says he is in shape and focused on playing against Ghana on Thursday to get the World Cup campaign off to a good start.
The under-fire Manchester United forward said he would not allow his recent tell-it-all interview with controversial British journalist, Piers Morgan, to distract him from his team’s upcoming match with Ghana’s Black Stars at the Stadium 974 in Doha, insisting that performing well with Portugal at the World Cup was his immediate priority rather than falling out with his English Premier League side.
The 37-year-old Portugal captain trained with his teammates yesterday morning and declared himself fit to face Ghana after missing his side’s friendly with Nigeria last Thursday due a stomach problem.
“I’m feeling great, I’ve recovered and I’m training well and ready to start the World Cup in the best way possible,” Ronaldo said at a press conference in Doha yesterday.
“I feel that this Portugal squad has amazing potential. I think we can win for sure, but we need to focus on the next game. So, it’s focusing on Ghana, get a win and go from there.
“We will see in the end who the best team is, but I believe Portugal is the best team in this World Cup. But we need to show it on the pitch,” Ronaldo stated.
Thursday’s clash with Ghana will be the second group encounter between the two sides after Portugal defeated the Black Stars 2-1 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with Ronaldo scoring the winning goal in the 80th minute to send his side to the next round, as Ghana crashed out of the tournament.
He said Portugal had the potential to win the tournament but the players were concentrating on their match with Ghana and would not be carried away by looking beyond their most immediate tasks.
“We have enormous potential, but we have to think about Ghana and take it slowly. From there, we grow. If we are the best team, we will reach the final. The champion will be the best. We have youthful players, it’s a good mix.
Ronaldo, who is appearing in his fifth and possibly final World Cup, did not shy away from dealing with controversial questions about his controversial interview which had got his club weighing up legal options available to them, his relationship with some of his Portugal teammates, as well as the never-ending comparison between him and Argentine rival, Lionel Messi.
For the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, he has nothing to prove in football, and at this World Cup tournament his aim is to give of his best for his country rather than to fight for individual goals.
“I’d love to win this tournament, but if you told me I’d never win another trophy until the end of my career, I’d be happy all the same. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.
“But a World Cup in my career wouldn’t be bad! I’d love it and it’s a dream for me. It’s possible. Let’s see. I hope the positive energies are on our side and we can do our best,” he said.
During their heyday playing for rival Spanish clubs, the intense competition between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi push the two stars to play to their full potential and won many individual and team laurels. At the national team level, they have crossed each other’s path fewer times and will both be aiming for the ultimate glory in world football.
However, Ronaldo says he would not be bogged down by the debate over which of the two players is the greatest of all time. For him, the debate is often driven by individual preferences, hence would leave the verdict to people to form their own opinions.
“I don’t see things that way [Messi vs Ronaldo comparison]. Even if we won the World Cup that debate would go on. It’s like everything in life; some prefer blonds, others prefer brunettes.