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 May 8, 2002 | 1050 IST

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Romario still silent after World Cup rejection

Brazilian striker Romario remained silent on Tuesday, 24 hours after being left out of his country's squad for the World Cup finals starting at the end of the month.

Romario, who scored five goals when he helped Brazil win their fourth world title in 1994, had been expected to comment on his omission on Tuesday after training with his club Vasco da Gama.

But he failed to turn up and his spokesman Fernando Santana said that he had gone to see a doctor about a pain in his back.

"His mood is better than I would have been expected," said Santana. "He is happy that he is fully fit and has been averaging 1.1 goals a game."

Romario remains one of the world's most dangerous penalty area specialists at the age of 36 and Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has defied public opinion in refusing to pick him.

On Tuesday, one newspaper produced a huge photo of Scolari on its front page under the headline "Brazil's public enemy number one."

Romario's only appearance since Scolari took over 11 months ago was in the 1-0 defeat by Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier last July.

Since then, Scolari has blamed "technical and tactical reasons" for Romario's absence but, in naming the squad on Monday, he also mentioned Romario's decision to drop out of last year's Copa America squad.

Romario asked not to be picked for the comeptition in Colombia claiming he needed to have an eye operation but shortly afterwards went on a tour to Mexico with Vasco.

This, according to the Brazilian media, enraged Scolari.

While Romario remained tight-lipped, Sporting Lisbon striker Mario Jardel was lamenting his absence after a season in which he has been in excellent goalscoring form for his club.

"This is the biggest disappointment of my career and the saddest moment of my life," he said. "I was having a marvellous year, it's a shame."

Jardel made his name under Scolari when he played in the Gremio team which won the South American Libertadores Cup in 1995.

But he has not been picked for Brazil since a dismal display in the Copa America when he was in the team which suffered an infamous quarter-final defeat at the hands of Honduras.

Jardel later blamed his performance on the fact he had just returned from injury and was still not match fit.

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