(Persia Digest) - The Sun writes that England skipper Kane has overtaken Ronaldo as the World Cup’s leading scorer after his three goals in yesterday’s 6-1 thrashing of Panama.But the Portuguese captain has made it his personal goal to win the Golden Boot in Russia.
And that can only spell trouble for outsiders Iran in tonight’s Group B decider in Saransk.
Iran’s Portuguese boss Carlos Queiroz is under no illusions where the biggest threat to his team comes from and says: “Portugal have a national side called Cristiano Ronaldo and a group of players who run after him.”
Queiroz believes he has inside knowledge of Ronaldo’s abilities after his time at Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant.
But Portuguese coach Fernando Santos doubts that even Queiroz can come up with a plan to halt a player who scored his 85th international goal in last week’s 1-0 win against Morocco.
“Whether it’s Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid or the Portuguese national team, we all know that Cristiano makes a difference wherever he plays.
“I was his trainer at Sporting when he went to Manchester and he has shown very clearly what he can do.
“But I have to say that this is not just Cristiano against Iran. It’s Portugal against a very strong team, the best team in Asia in my opinion.”
Queiroz knows he will probably never be able to show his face again in his home country if he knocks Portugal out of the World Cup tonight.But Santos shrugged off suggestions that Queiroz will somehow be betraying his nation.
“Carlos is my colleague and my friend,” he said. “We have known each other for 35 years and though we will put our friendship on hold for the night, this match will not change our relationship.
“He is a great coach and a great professional and we both know what is at stake tonight.
“It’s a decisive match and you could say that we have already reached the knock-out stage because both teams are in position to move on to the next round.“I have watched all of Iran’s qualifying games and I know they will give us many difficulties. But we will prove that we have the quality to beat them.”
Yet Queiroz is hoping that Ronaldo’s mere presence on the pitch in Saransk this evening will inspire his team to make it through to the last 16 of the World Cup for their first time in Iran’s history.
He says: “Not in the wildest dreams of my players and all their limitations could they have imagined playing against Cristiano.
“They are very excited to fight for this dream and we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.“Portugal comes with very strong animals and they can bite quite hard.
“They are powerful candidates to win the World Cup but we are ready to compete with honour and dignity.
“I want to make it clear that we are not here to be losers.
“We are here to compete and to have fun and hopefully we can have the bit of luck we need to win this game and get through to the next round.”