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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 02:53 GMT 03:53 UK
Rui Costa ready to pounce
Portugal were World Youth Champions in 1991
Portugal's "golden boys" 11 years ago in Chile
Portugal's Rui Costa hopes to unsettle defences in the World Cup the same way he did in the 2000 European championship.

Playmaker Rui Costa set up a header for Joao Pinto which was crucial in turning an early 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory over England two years ago.

Portugal were knocked out by a golden goal penalty for a controversial Abel Xavier handball in a semi-final against eventual winners France.

"Sadness remains over the way we were knocked out, but we are also proud of what we achieved," said Rui Costa.

The team is determined to do well in this tournament, which is the last chance to shine for Portugal's "golden boys," who were world youth champions in 1991.

They include the Fifa player of the year Luis Figo, fresh from winning the Champions League with Real Madrid, Lazio star Fernando Couto, and English premier league defenders Jorge Costa and Xavier.

Portugal's Rui Costa
Rui Costa missed much of the season with injury

"We believe this is a great opportunity, because no Portuguese side has ever gone to a World Cup with as much credit as this one," Rui Costa said.

Rui Costa has had a frustrating season plagued by injuries at AC Milan.

He has also had to miss many of Portugal's World Cup warm-up games.

But he has joined in full training sessions held first in Macao and now under tight security at Seoul's Military Academy.

"I feel fine, I am going well, I've forced myself along with my team-mates so that we can reach peak fitness," Rui Costa added.

Striker Joao Pinto's own fitness and form have not been in doubt during one of his finest domestic seasons, in which his Sporting Lisbon side landed a league and cup double.

Rui Costa said he could barely wait for their first group D clash against the United States in Suwon on Wednesday.

"It's controlled anxiety. We are more anxious now than in Macao, and are waiting for our turn," said Rui Costa.

"But we're experienced players, we can handle anxiety."


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GROUP D
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SOUTH KOREA 3 +3 7
USA 3 -1 4
PORTUGAL 3 +2 3
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