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 March 4, 2002 | 1155 IST

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Two-goal Romario turns up the heat on Big Phil

Brazilian striker Romario, who has been repeatedly ignored by the national team since last July, scored twice in Vasco da Gama's 4-1 win over Portuguesa to increase the pressure for a recall.

Romario, top scorer in last year's Brazilian championship with 21 goals, took his tally to nine in eight games in the Rio-Sao Paulo tournament as he fuelled the controversy over whether Brazil should take him to the World Cup.

He is second top scorer after Ponte Preta striker Washington, who has 10 goals.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari defied a wave of pressure last week -- which even included President Fernando Henrique Cardoso speaking out in Romario's favour -- as he again left the 36-year-old veteran out of his squad, this time for Thursday's friendly with Iceland.

The man known as Big Phil, or Felipao, refused to say whether or not he would take Romario to the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan in May and June.

Romario, who missed France '98 through injury, desperately wants to play in what would be his third World Cup.

"I take the field with the duty to score goals and I'm 100 percent switched on so that I don't waste chances," said Romario in comments which appeared directed at those who feel he is past his best.


Brazil goalkeeper Marcos, who was under fire last week after two blunders cost Palmeiras goals against America-Rio de Janeiro, atoned with an excellent display which helped his team to a 3-2 win over Fluminense.

Marcos made several excellent saves, including one from a penalty taken by Roger with the score at 0-0, as Palmeiras stayed top of the first stage.

Afterwards, he thanked Scolari for including him in the squad to face Iceland.

"I knew I wouldn't make the same mistakes again," he said. "I thank Felipao for the vote of confidence. I know he doesn't just analyse a player on the strength of one game."

Palmeiras midfielder Alex, also picked to face Iceland, scored two goals and hit back at the critics who said he did not deserve to be included.

"I can't understand why they say that I was picked because I'm a friend of Felipao," he said. "I was picked for my football, not because I'm his friend."

Flamengo, Brazil's most popular club, won their first game in the tournament when they overcame Corinthians 4-3 in a dramatic encounter.

Midfielder Juninho Paulista -- who is expected to figure prominently in Brazil's World Cup team -- had his best game for Flamengo since joining them from Vasco at the start of the year, setting up three of their goals.

Flamengo led 2-0 before Corinthians hit back to lead 3-2, but two goals in four minutes gave Flamengo the points.

Brazil are in group C at the World Cup finals, along with Turkey, China and Costa Rica.

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