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‘I still have a lot of wood to burn’

Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo, who put his international career on hold after the 2002 World Cup, said on Thursday that he would continue playing for his country and wanted to take part in the 2006 Germany edition.

“I’m 30 years old and I’ve still got a lot of wood to burn, I can still do a lot for the Selecao (Brazilian national team),” he told a Sao Paulo journal.

“I know that a lot of new players are appearing in Brazil, but I’m not dead yet,” added the AC Milan player. “I’m going to play every time the coach (Carlos Alberto Parreira) picks me. If he decides to stop picking me halfway through the World Cup qualifiers and chooses somebody else, I will understand.

“But if I can keep up my standards at Milan and if Parreira wants, I’ll stay until the next cup. I had a great Cup in 2002 and I know I can play. I want to end the speculation about my not wanting to play for the Selecao any more.”

Rivaldo had an excellent World Cup after years of being criticised for under-achieving at international level and finished joint second top-scorer with five goals.

He credited former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for his improvement, saying that ‘Big Phil’ had given him a vote of confidence before the tournament started.

Only 18 months earlier, Rivaldo had become so disillusioned with endless criticism of his play that he considered packing in his international career. He was briefly dropped in 2001 by coach Emerson Leao but was quickly recalled when Scolari took over.

Brazil are due to begin the South American qualifying meet in August. Under new Fifa rules, they are not guaranteed a place in Germany as champions. “The qualifiers are always complicated, especially for those of us who play in Europe,” Rivaldo said.

“We have to make a long trip, we train once or twice and we are always expected to play well, whether it be at altitude, or on a bad pitch and against good teams. I hope that the fans and the media will be patient if we don't play well... I don’t want anyone saying that I played badly because I’ve already won the World Cup and have lost my ambition to wear the Selecao’s shirt.” (Reuters)

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