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Ronaldo included on Martínez’s first squad for Portugal
LISBON, Portugal: New Portugal coach Roberto Martínez included Cristiano Ronaldo in his first squad on Friday since taking over from Fernando Santos following the World Cup. The 38-year-old Ronaldo was left out of Santos’ starting lineup for Portugal’s knockout-phase games at the tournament in Qatar, including the quarterfinal loss to Morocco. Ronaldo, who plays for Saudi team Al-Nassr, can add to his international record 118 goals when Portugal plays European Championship qualifiers against Liechtenstein on March 23 and at Luxembourg three days later. “Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who is completely committed to the national team,” Martínez said. “I don’t look at age or other aspects. He has the chance to help the team and pass on his experience to other players.” Martínez made very few changes to the squad he inherited from Santos. Pepe, aged 40, was back again in defense, while Ronaldo was joined by João Félix, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva as playmakers. Martínez joined Portugal after the Spaniard ended his six-year stint with Belgium following the team’s disappointing group-stage elimination at the World Cup. Portugal’s Euro 2024 qualifying group also includes Iceland, Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.