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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 03:56 GMT 04:56 UK

Final ambition for Ronaldo

By Phil McNulty
BBC Sport Online's man in Japan

Ronaldo shot Brazil into the World Cup final against Germany with the winner that sunk Turkey and then declared: "The nightmare is over."

Brazil's superstar striker has been haunted by the bitter memories of the final defeat against France in 1998, and has battled to save his career in four injury-plagued years.

But he scored a brilliant goal to give Brazil a 1-0 win over Turkey, then focused on setting the record straight when his team meet Germany in Yokohama on Sunday.

" Germany have a very powerful team - they play with great discipline and have many outstanding players "

"After what I have been through, it is a victory every time I score a goal," Ronaldo said.

"Every time I step on the pitch it is an honour - the nightmare is over.

"I will not detain everyone by talking about my suffering over the last years, but just to play football is a great honour now.

"I don't want to remember that World Cup Final against France.

"I want to think about our next final against Germany. I am feeling great happiness and I am proud to have scored the goal for Brazil."

Ronaldo added: "I know some people were even saying I had psychological problems when I was injured before this match, but this is wrong.

"There was not a psychological problem, it was a physical problem with my thigh."

He also spoke about the incident that led to his bust-up with Turkish defender Bulent Korkmaz that sparked a discussion with referee Kim Milton Nielsen before the start of the second half.

"We had a problem and we fell over. He then stepped on me and hit me with his fist and that made me very angry.

"I spoke with the referee about it, but I am not the player to respond in any other way than with my football. My answer to it all was my goal."

Ronaldo admitted Germany would be tough opponents in Yokohama, but confirmed that he would be fit and ready for the challenge.

"Germany have a very powerful team. They play with great discipline and have many outstanding players.

"I did have some pain in my thigh, but I was taken off to rest and I will be ready for the final. I am now going to rest and do nothing else between now and Sunday."

'Fit for the final'

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari also dismissed fears that Ronaldo's substitution during the win over Turkey was due to an injury that could prevent his particpation in the final.

"He has no problem with tiredness. We took him off just to keep him fresh for the final."

Scolari paid tribute to Turkey after their resilient display against the Brazilians.

"They play hard, they play different. From midfield to attack they are a very good team," said Scolari.

"We expected to win by more but I would like to congratulate Turkey.

And he said that he was looking to the final against Germany, especially given that both team's struggled to qualify for the finals.

"We both had difficulties qualifying and both reached the finals at the last moment," said the coach.

"May the best team win."

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