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   June 16, 2002 | 1345 IST


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Marcos finally gets chance to shine

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Brian Homewood

Brazil goalkeeper Marcos could finally get his chance to shine as the World Cup enters the knock-out stages.

Marcos has probably been Brazil's least discussed player at the World Cup, having had little to do apart from fish the ball out of the net on three occasions.

Marcos, who was a reserve at his club until only three years ago, was not at fault for any of the goals he conceded and, apart from them, has not been overworked in any of Brazil's games.

With the possibility of penalty shoot-outs looming, however, he could soon come into his own.

Marcos has made his name as a specialist in penalty saves ever since pulling one off on his professional debut for Palmeiras against Botafogo-Ribeirao Preto.

That was just the beginning.

Goalkeeper MarcosIn 1999, he was thrown into the Libertadores Cup fray -- South America's equivalent of the Champions League -- after an injury to Palmeiras's first-choice goalkeeper Veloso. He responded magnificently, making crucial saves as Palmeiras beat arch-rivals Corinthians in the quarter-finals and then defeated Colombia's Deportivo Cali on penalties in the final.

One year later, he was again the hero as Palmeiras again reached the Libertadores final, winning two penalty shoot-outs on the way before finally going down to Argentina's Boca Juniors.

Brazilian goalkeepers have often been described as the team's weak link, but Marcos said recently that they have made been scapegoats.

In particular, he remembers the late Barbosa, who had the misfortune to be in goal when Brazil were beaten 2-1 by Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium in the decisive match of the 1950 World Cup, one of the great upsets of all time.

Barbosa had to live with the stigma for the rest of his life.


"I don't want suffer the same injustices as Barbosa, Valdir Peres and Manga, who were marvellous goalkeepers but whose names were blackened by mistakes in the World Cup," he told the Jornal da Tarde in an interview shortly before the World Cup.

"This will not happen to me. I'm concentrating all the time so that this World Cup becomes a reason for happiness and not more suffering."

Marcos, who is intensely religious and often raises his arms to the sky during a game, certainly knows the meaning of the word suffering.

After finally clinching a first team place at his club at the age of 26, his career was thrown into danger after two successive injuries to his hand.

"I suffered so much to be here now," he said in the same interview.

"I thought I would have to stop playing football before I got to the national team. Only my family knows what I went through."

Having recovered, Marcos was given his international debut in last year's Copa America and has kept his place ever since.

Brazil, who will face England in the quarter-final if they can beat Belgium on Monday, won penalty shootouts in each of the last World Cups with the help of his predecessor Taffarel.

But Marcos said he does not want a chance to show off his expertise.

"We want to win the game in normal time," he said. "It's not just me. The Brazilian supporters don't want it to go to penalties because it's too agonising."

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