RONALDO: ROONEY WAS JOKINOctober 9, 2009
Cristiano Ronaldo believes Wayne Rooney’s comments about Portugal not qualifying for the World Cup were in jest.
Rooney had said “it would be nice” if Portugal did not qualify for the competition in South Africa next year, as England have been knocked out of their last two major tournaments by Ronaldo’s side.
But Rooney’s former Manchester United team-mate thinks the comments were not meant to be taken seriously.
“I am sure he was joking,” said the Portuguese forward.
“He is a good friend of mine and he knows Portugal are a top team. He played a few times against us and never won, but I am sure he was joking as he has friends here (in the squad).”
Portugal are struggling in third position in Group One, and they must win their remaining games against Hungary and Malta and hope Sweden drop points to have a chance of making the play-offs.
Under-pressure coach Carlos Queiroz, who worked with both players at United, believes Rooney’s comments show respect to Portugal.
“Knowing him, I know why he said that – it’s because it shows his respect for Portuguese football and Ronaldo particularly.”
Ronaldo has shaken off an ankle injury in time for the game against Hungary on Saturday, while Jose Bosingwa is also fit after recovering from a muscle problem.
Malaga defender Duda and Guimaraes midfielder Nuno Assis are also available, but Juventus’s Tiago is set to miss out.