Deco keen to take on Drogba

14 June 2010 03:24
Portugal midfielder Deco is hoping for a World Cup reunion with Chelsea team-mate Didier Drogba in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

Ivory Coast striker Drogba is facing a race against time to recover from the broken arm he suffered in the run-up to the finals, and the Africans are playing their cards close to their chest ahead of the Group G clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

However, while many of his compatriots could be forgiven for hoping that the former Marseille hitman misses out, Deco will be happy to lock horns with him.

"I haven't spoken to Didier and I don't now if he is going to play tomorrow, but I hope so because he is a friend," said Deco.

"He is a good player. He's a friend of mine and a Chelsea player. If he plays, it will be good for the game. I hope he plays."

There were initial fears that Drogba's tournament could be over before it had begun when he first sustained the injury during the Ivory Coast's warm-up game against Japan in Switzerland on June 4.

But, following successful surgery, there is a growing belief that he could yet have a significant role to play in South Africa, and Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz has been in the game too long to be surprised if his name appears on the teamsheet tomorrow afternoon.

Queiroz said: "What is important for me as the coach of the Portuguese national team is to worry about my own players.

"Obviously, I'm not a doctor, so I can't sat if Didier Drogba is going to be playing. It is a fracture and the doctors from the Ivory Coast together with [coach] Mr [Sven-Goran] Eriksson will have to make that decision.

"But, after 30 years in football, there's nothing that surprises me. Whether he plays or not, nothing would surprise me."

The Portugal squad flew into Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg this afternoon and headed straight to the stadium to train, but they did so with Manchester United midfielder Nani back in Lisbon nursing a shoulder injury.

He has been quoted as saying he could be fit again within a week, sparking rumours that his departure from South Africa was for reasons other than his fitness.

They have been firmly denied by the Portuguese camp, though, and Queiroz was not being drawn into the debate today.

He said: "Tomorrow, we are going to be playing the Ivory Coast in our first game in the World Cup.

"If Nani is ready in four days, that's wonderful, but the most important thing is for us to focus on our goal tomorrow.

"So, with all due respect to Nani, that is what we are focusing on.

"We can talk about that [the Nani situation] later."

On that subject, Deco admitted he and his team-mates were in the dark.

He said: "What I heard was that he [Nani] broke his shoulder and that it would be difficult for him to be ready to play because the recuperation time would be quite long.

"As players, we don't really have that kind of information. We speak to Nani and it's obvious that any player who is out feels a lot of frustration and in his case, I am sure he's feeling that way.

"He was hoping to have played and he still hopes to be able to play."

Portugal have been drawn into a tough group with Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea, and Queiroz knows there will be a major fight for the two available berths in the last 16.

He said: "With all due respect to North Korea, there are three teams for two places.

"We could be the best three teams at the World Cup, but the regulations only allow two to go forward.

"What is important is that we win tomorrow. A World Cup is something that doesn't allow you to make mistakes, so from the beginning, we want to get the three points.

"But we have nine points to play for and the first three points are as important as the last."

Source: Team_Talk