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  20 May, 2002 | 2000 IST


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Rivaldo says he's raring to go

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Brian Homewood

Brazil's injury-hit striker Rivaldo said he's finally shaken off the pain in his troublesome right knee as the four-time champions arrived in Malaysia on Monday to continue their World Cup preparations.

Rivaldo, whose knee has become a major worry for Brazil, trained with his team mates for the first time since the squad assembled in Spain last week and said he wants to play the whole of Saturday's friendly international against Malaysia.

The match is Brazil's last before they open their World Cup campaign against Turkey on June 3.

Rivaldo and team mate Roberto Carlos exercise."I have started training with the rest of the squad; I have started training with the ball and I am available for Saturday's game," said Rivaldo.

"It depends on the coach, but if it depended on me then I would like to play the full 90 minutes. But obviously the coach is likely to want to test some other players and I have to accept that."

The Barcelona player, who was restricted to light exercises on his own last week, has not played a competitive match for nearly a month and was forced to miss both Champions League semifinal legs against Real Madrid.

With Barcelona's doctor warning that the knee might not stand a lengthy World Cup campaign, Brazilians had begun wondering if Rivaldo might not suffer the same fate as Romario who was axed due to a nagging injury on the eve of France '98.


But on Monday Rivaldo said he is no longer feeling the pain in his right leg which had mainly affected him when shooting with his left foot.

"On Friday, I tried shooting a bit harder and I still didn't feel anything at all, today again I was shooting hard and I didn't feel anything," he said.

Rivaldo admitted that the thought of missing out on the World Cup had crossed his mind but quickly passed.

"When it happened I was thinking the worst but I stopped worrying after the exams showed there was no need to have surgery," he said.

He said that tests carried out on all the squad in Barcelona last week showed that he was among the fittest players in the squad.

"My tests were among the best, I was running at the same speed as (right-back) Cafu who is one of the best.

Brazil began their World Cup warm-up by spending a week in Barcelona last week and beating a Catalan XI 3-1 in a friendly on Saturday.

They landed in Kuala Lumpur first thing on Monday morning, where their first problem was to overcome jet lag caused by a six-hour time difference.

Rivaldo was confident of sleeping well but warned that his team mates might pay the price after being unable to resist a siesta in the afternoon.

"I've avoided sleeping at all today so that when the evening comes, I'll be tired and I'll get a good night's sleep," he said. "Some of the others had a nap after lunch, though, and I think they'll have trouble sleeping."

Brazil are drawn in Group C with Turkey, China and Costa Rica.

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