SPORT

A new 'Ro-Ro' attack revives Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 29. The `Ro-Ro' attack is back _ but this time without Romario. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are Brazil's new hope to carry the team to a fifth World Cup title.

The two were the standouts of Brazil's 1-0 win over Yugoslavia in a Cup warm-up the other day.

While neither scored in an otherwise lacklustre game, they showed teamwork and the touch of class the team had sorely missed.

``The victory of hope,'' read a headline on Thursday in the Rio sporting daily Lance.

No one expected great things from Brazil, which is struggling to get ready for this summer's Cup after its worst qualifying campaign in history. Ronaldo, visibly out of shape, was returning to the team after a two-year absence for two knee operations.

Ronaldinho wasn't even expected to start. But the two immediately hit it off. In the 14th minute, Ronaldo sent a brilliant through ball to Ronaldinho for the first of many scoring chances. Even more important than the no-look passes, dribbles and breakaways, the `phenomenon' showed no ill effects from knee surgery or a recent series of muscle problems.

``I want things to happen slowly, since I was idle for so long,'' the Inter striker said as he left the field at half-time, exhausted but smiling. ``But I'm ambitious. I pursue my objectives, and one of them is to be No. 1 in the world again.''

Ronaldinho _ or ``little Ronaldo'' in Portuguese _ also was a welcome surprise. As a last-minute replacement for the injured Rivaldo, Ronaldinho seemed entirely at home in his double role as playmaker and forward.

When he wasn't bedevilling Yugoslavia's excellent goalie Dragoslav Jevric, he was setting up his teammate _ including a feed to Edilson for an apparent score that was annulled on a questionable offside call.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari made it clear that Ronaldinho was a big part of Brazil's plans.

``This period he's been playing in France, this has helped him perfect his defensive positioning,'' Scolari said. ``He is a very versatile player and can be used both in the midfield and as a second attacker.''

Another player who was apparently guaranteed a spot on Brazil's Cup team was Gremio striker Luizao.

Idle for two months over a contract dispute, Luizao replaced Ronaldo at half-time and scored the game-winner on a header in the 70th minute. ``We were always betting on Luizao,'' said Scolari. ``He was called up when he wasn't yet in shape and he still scores the winning goal. I hope it's always like that.''

The rapport between the Ronaldos could create a problem for Scolari: Where to play Rivaldo? One solution could be to bench Edilson and move Rivaldo up to the front line, closer to the position he plays for Barcelona.

The victory over Yugoslavia also seemed to diminish the chances of Romario to return for one more World Cup.

Scolari has ignored a national campaign to bring him back, and the encouraging play of Ronaldo and Co. leaves little room for the 36-year-old striker.

For the Ronaldos, the doors are open.

``Passports stamped,'' declared the Rio daily O Globo.

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