SAITAMA, Japan, AFP
Brazil star Ronaldo shrugged off concerns about his fitness here Monday, insisting he would be fit to start against Turkey in Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal.
The injury-plagued 25-year-old was substituted in last week’s quarterfinal win over England after picking up a thigh strain, raising doubts about whether his tired body could last the course.
But after coming through a light training session unscathed here Monday, the Inter Milan star said although he was still not 100 percent fit he would definitely start against the Turks.
“I’ll be ready for Turkey, there is no doubt in my mind about that,” said Ronaldo. “It’s a relief for me that I could train so easily. I have another day of rest and so by Wednesday I will be fine.”
Ronaldo took his normal position in attack for Brazil during a practice match at the Saitama Stadium though was ordered by team doctors not to attempt any of his trademark bursts of speed.
“We told him not to try any sprints, just as a precaution,” Brazil team doctor Jose Luiz Runco said. “We have to be careful with him and ease him back gently. But we are optimistic he will be okay to play.”
Ronaldo has been dogged by a series of muscular problems in his legs since making a comeback last year from two horrendous knee injuries.
He has showed tantalizing glimpses of his old self at the World Cup, and is currently the tournament’s joint top-scorer on five goals along with teammate Rivaldo and Germany’s Miroslav Klose.
But he is not worried if one of the others beats him to the Golden Boot as long as Brazil win the event to make up for their 3-0 final loss four years ago to France.
“I am not worried about being top scorer – I just want to get as many goals as possible to help Brazil win the World Cup. That is all I’m thinking about at the moment.”
Meanwhile in another scare for Brazil, goalkeeper Marcos limped out of the training session after colliding with his teammate Edilson.
However team doctor Runco played down the incident and said there was no question of Marcos missing the semi-final. “We took him off as a precaution. He’s got a bruise on his thigh but he’s fine,” Runco said.
Juninho Paulista is likely to win a place back in the starting lineup in place of the suspended Ronaldinho. Juninho, who was dropped for the England game, played in midfield during the training session.