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   June 23, 2002 | 1230 IST


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Mixed feelings for Ronaldo's stand-in

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Brazil's reserve striker Luizao is dreaming of playing in Wednesday's World Cup semi-final against Turkey but at the same time he does not want Ronaldo to miss the game through injury.

Ronaldo is still doubtful for the match after complaining of a pain in his left thigh and Luizao, one of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's most controversial selections, is his likely replacement.

"If I have the chance to play, it would be a dream," he said. "But I'm a very close friend of Ronaldo and he has suffered too much already, he doesn't deserve to miss out.

"It's very difficult to replace Ronaldo but the players will help me do well and score the goals that Brazil need to win the game," he added.

"When I've had the chance, I've done my job. I'm going to try and help again."

Ronaldo, who missed two-and-a-half years of international football after undergoing two operations on his right knee and was then struck down with three muscular injuries in quick succession, has had an excellent World Cup, scoring five goals in five games.

But the strain of playing so many matches in a short time took its toll on Friday, when he limped out of the 2-1 win over England.

Team doctor Jose Luis Runco said that, under normal circumstances, he would expect Ronaldo to be ready for Wednesday but says it is still too early to confirm whether he can play.


If Ronaldo is passed fit, Luizao could suffer a similar disappointment to Edmundo, who for a few minutes believed he was going to play in the 1998 World Cup final against France after Ronaldo famously suffered a fit in the team hotel.

Official team lists were handed around at the Stade de France with Edmundo in place of Ronaldo. But the striker known as the Phenomenon was controversially allowed to play by coach Mario Zagallo after insisting he was fit and Edmundo missed out.

Luizao has already made an impact at the World Cup, even though he only played for the last 18 minutes of the 2-1 win over Turkey in Brazil's opening game.

He won the penalty that gave Brazil their late winner after being fouled outside the penalty but continuing his fall over the line.

He admitted that, as soon as he heard the referee's whistle, he got up and placed the ball on the penalty spot to try and influence the official's decision.

"Maybe my destiny is to play against Turkey," he said.

Luizao, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Venezuela which finally clinched Brazil's place at the World Cup after a stuttering qualifying campaign, was surprisingly picked for the cup ahead of players such as Elber, Jardel, Franca and veteran Romario.

But Scolari has repeatedly stated that he has full confidence in Luizao, who now wants a chance to repay his coach's faith.

"On the field, I have to run for myself and for him," he said.

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