The Portuguese Football Association announced, on Monday, the appointment of Spain’s Roberto Martinez as coach of the national team, to succeed Fernando Santoshin, who left his post after the exit from the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Martinez was no stranger to the finals in Qatar, where he was eliminated from the third World Cup 2018 in the first round, in a remarkable surprise.
The first and most prominent challenge for the 49-year-old coach will be dealing with the future of Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo at the international level, especially after the latter moved to the Saudi victory.
“The starting point will be the group of 26 players who participated in the World Cup, and Cristiano Ronaldo is one of them,” Martinez told a news conference, adding cautiously that he would make his decisions “on the field” and “not in the office.”
Martinez left the Belgium national team last month, claiming that the early exclusion from the World Cup was not the reason for his departure, but rather that he made his decision before the start of the competitions.
After a difficult victory over Canada (1-0), Belgium suffered a resounding loss against Morocco (2-0), before drawing with Croatia without goals, to bid farewell to the tournament.
Martinez took over Belgium in 2016, after their painful elimination from the European Cup quarter-finals against Wales.
Under his leadership, the team reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, when it lost to France, who then won the title, before finishing in third place. The Belgian national team occupied the top of the FIFA classification for national teams for three years during this period.
The Portuguese national team is also emerging from a long period of stability after eight years under the leadership of Santos, who gave it its first major titles in its history: Euro 2016, and the first edition of the European Nations League in 2019.
And after Santos, 68, announced his departure from the Portuguese national team, five days after being eliminated by Morocco in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar, the Portuguese press reported that the local federation wants to appoint his compatriot Jose Mourinho, the current Italian coach of Rome.