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Aussies not taking Ronaldo lightly

Striker is still 'world class' insists the Socceroos skipper Mark Viduka

Brazilian striker Ronaldo has been slammed as fat and out of form, but Australian skipper Mark Viduka is wary of the two-time World Player of the Year hitting back in their Group F match here today.Ronaldo was slated for his lackluster performance in Brazil's 1-0 win over Croatia in Berlin last Tuesday where he was substituted in the second half and replaced by Real Madrid teammate Robinho.
The Real Madrid attacker, who has been dogged by injury and fitness problems, needed treatment at a Frankfurt hospital this week after complaining of dizzy spells.
But the Australians need no reminding how potent the 29-year-old marksman can be as the leading scorer at the 2002 World Cup.
"People might say he's out of shape, but he's still dangerous," Viduka said at a pre-match press conference here Saturday.
"He's still one of the best players in the world. As a striker myself, I have looked up to him for years," he said.
"In his career he has had ups and down like most footballers, but he is a world class player."
Australian coach Guus Hiddink also spoke of the dangers Ronaldo possesses for opposing defenses.
"He can be sleepy at times," Hiddink said. "But he can strike in just one or two seconds. He is very dangerous."
Ronaldo needs just one goal to move ahead of Pele as Brazil's top all-time World Cup goalscorer. Both have 12, two behind all-time leader Gerd Muller of Germany.
Meanwhile, Hiddink says the big-match occasion of facing champion Brazil demands the strongest team he can field.
Hiddink indicated at his pre-match press conference Saturday that any thoughts of playing safety-first with four players on yellow cards will be put aside and that he would instead venture into the Munich showpiece with his best team.
The Dutch strategist had admitted this week of his concern in playing any or all of his four carded players - Craig Moore, Tim Cahill, Vince Grella and John Aloisi - for fear of them receiving another yellow card against Brazil and missing the potential 'Cup final' confrontation with Croatia through suspension next week.
But Hiddink, whose Dutch team lost to Brazil in the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup on penalties, spoke of making the best possible challenge Australia can muster against the five-time World Cup champion.
A famous victory against the odds today would virtually ensure Australia, memorable 3-1 winners over Japan last weekend, passage into the knockout round in its first finals in 32 years.
"There are some conditions on this game and the last against Croatia because we have some yellow cards and I have told the guys to be aware of the consequences of further cards," Hiddink said Saturday.
"We have to consider whether to bring players in who are on the fringe of the team," he said.
"This game deserves a team which is good enough to make an opposition to Brazil and not just considering leaving out all the players on yellow cards," he emphasized.
"We would like to make a result and make a good impression world wide and I don't think we have to think too much about the third game (Croatia) and what will happen then."

Updated : 2021-10-17 13:55 GMT+08:00