Portugal is not good enough to win the World Cup, its world footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo admitted after Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw with the United States.
The 29-year-old Real Madrid superstar — whose fitness has been a hot source of debate — kept his country’s slim hopes of reaching the second round alive with a sublime cross which was headed home by Silvestre Varela in the dying seconds of time added on.
The Portuguese, who were hammered 4-0 by Germany in their opening game, must beat Ghana and hope there is a winner from the other match between Germany and the Americans — who both have four points — on Thursday to leave the second qualifying spot down to goal difference.
However, Ronaldo — who looks doomed to prolong the curse of the world footballer of the year never winning the World Cup the year he wins the award — said even reaching the second round will not presage a revival that will see them lift the World Cup trophy for the first time.
“Portugal were never a favourite,” said Ronaldo.
“Even qualifying for the finals was problematic (he almost singlehandedly got Portugal to the finals with a hat-trick in the second leg of the play-off with Sweden in Stockholm in a 3-2 win, and a 4-2 victory on aggregate).
“I never thought we would be world champions. We have to be humble and recognise our limitations. There are things we cannot do, like running faster or having more quality.
“At the moment there are better teams and better players than our own.
“Also with the setbacks we have had here, with the suspension of Pepe and the injury to Fabio Coentrao.”