Fernando Santos: Coach who benched Cristiano Ronaldo fired after six games

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Fernando Santos: Coach who benched Cristiano Ronaldo fired after six games

Fernando Santos has been fired as the head coach of the Poland national football team just six games into his tenure – this pegged on dismal results.

Santos’ absence from domestic matches had all along fuelled discontent, and the final straw was the 2-0 loss to Albania in Tirana on Sunday.

The result jeopardized Poland’s quest for a fifth consecutive European Championship appearance.

Fernando Santos
Fernando Santos shakes hands with Poland captain Robert Lewandowski in a past match. [Photo/Courtesy].

The Polish Football Association expressed gratitude towards Santos in a statement, with the coach reciprocating by acknowledging the opportunity he had been given.

“I would like to thank coach Santos for working with our national team and I wish him good luck in his next sports challenges,” Poland’s FA President Cezary Kulesza said.

Santos led Portugal to two major honours

Santos gained renown for guiding his native Portugal to victory in the 2016 European Championship followed by the inaugural Nations League in 2019.

After eight years as Portugal’s coach, Santos stepped down following last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Fernando Santos
Fernando Santos led Portugal to 2016 Euro success then the Nations League three years later. [Photo/Courtesy].

Santos faces criticism for benching Ronaldo

His tenure concluded with a quarterfinal loss to Morocco, a match where he faced substantial criticism for benching the iconic Portugal captain and top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, Santos stood by his decisions, expressing no regrets.

“I think this was a team which played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, he came in when we thought it was necessary, so no regrets,” he said.

Fernando Santos
Fernando Santos benched Cristiano Ronaldo in his last match as Portugal’s head coach. [Photo/Courtesy].

Fernando Santos’ short reign as Poland head coach

Despite the success with the A Seleção das Quinas, the 68-year-old couldn’t see out his first qualifying group stage with Poland.

His Poland began in January but struggled, with only one highlight – a 1-0 friendly victory against Germany.

Competitive games saw Poland stumble, losing to Moldova and Albania, sparking criticism.

These defeats placed Poland fourth in their Euro 2024 qualifying group, requiring favourable results elsewhere.

The appointment of a successor before their next qualifier against the Faroe Islands in October remains uncertain.

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