LISBON: Portugal will top their 2014 World Cup qualifying group F and qualify automatically for the finals, their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo said yesterday.
The 28-year-old -- whose hat-trick against Northern Ireland last month lifted him to second spot on Portugal’s all-time scoring list with 43 goals, four behind Pauleta -- believes the Portuguese will beat Israel tomorrow and then minnows Luxembourg next Tuesday.
Ronaldo is placing faith in the fact that present leaders Russia, who have a one point advantage, will slip up away to Luxembourg or away to Azerbaijan next Tuesday.
“I remain convinced that we will be able to regain top spot (they lost it when Russia beat Israel last month), even if our fate isn’t entirely in our own hands,” said the Real Madrid playmaker.
The Portuguese, who reached the Euro semi-finals last year but have struggled to impose themselves on a relatively easy qualifying group, will be without several key players for the match with Israel in Lisbon.
Defenders Joao Pereira and Bruno Alves are missing through injury, as is midfielder Raul Meireles while up front both Helder Postiga and Vieirinha are also absent but Ronaldo doesn’t think that would matter.
“This won’t affect players who wish to play and give the best of themselves.” AFP