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Portugal coach defends Ronaldo absence, Gabon trip

Published on Nov 14, 2012 6:15 AM
 
Portuguese headcoach Paulo Bento attends a press conference after a training session at the Dragao Stadium in Porto, on October 15, 2012, on the eve of the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifier football match Portugal vs North Ireland. -- PHOTO: AFP

LIBREVILLE (AFP) - Portugal coach Paulo Bento has defended the absence of the side's star turn Cristiano Ronaldo as well as the financial aspect of their friendly against Gabon.

Bento, speaking in Libreville on the eve of Wednesday's game, railed at a suggestion Ronaldo's no-show may not be for entirely sporting reasons despite the Real Madrid star having picked up a nasty gash to his head in a game at the weekend.

"If you don't tell me who is suspecting Ronaldo I can't reply to you becaue I can't imagine that anyone is questioning him," Bento replied to the journalist who posed the question. "You've seen his (Ronaldo's) eye and the medical report. He wasn't able to travel."

Turning to criticism of Portugal's decision to visit Libreville Bento said: "We are here on serious business. Don't make any mistake - this game has a sporting aspect and an economic aspect, as is the case with big sides." He continued: "Portugal were invited to play in Gabon due to everything that the Portuguese players have achieved over the years, for having made it to the major finals and for having played well in the big competitions.

 
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