Eusebio, left, was Portugal's hero when they last played North Korea in the World Cup.
Eusebio, left, was Portugal's hero when they last played North Korea in the World Cup.

Portugal need off-colour Ronaldo to do a Eusebio



CAPE TOWN // Forty-four years after their original, epic showdown, Portugal and North Korea will replay one of the World Cup most memorable matches tonight, when they meet in a Group D encounter in Cape Town. Their quarter-final clash at Everton's Goodison Park was a classic of the 1966 tournament in England. After North Korea had disposed of Italy in the previous round, a crowd of 51,000 in Liverpool - enchanted by the Asian side's fast, attacking style - roared on the underdogs. They were not disappointed.

With 20 minutes on the clock, the plucky Asian side had raced into a two-goal lead and a semi-finals spot beckoned when Yang Sung-kook added a third in the 22nd minute. The Portuguese, however, hit back. Eusebio, the reigning World Player of the Year and a man known as the "Black Pearl", took centre stage. The Benfica legend scored four goals - two either side of the break - as Portugal ran out 5-3 winners.

"It has been many years now, but it is always a good memory," Eusebio said earlier this week. "At the time I did not even dream of going on to the pitch and scoring the four goals. Every professional footballer has his day during his career, and that was my day and we managed to turn it around." How Portugal need a hero now. The current, underachieving side has netted only four times in their last five international matches and failed to score at all in their last two. But even as the somewhat mysterious North Korea side - only three of their squad play overseas - promise revenge, Eusebio is not convinced they will achieve it. Portugal, he insisted, will have done their homework.

"I think North Korea was even more unknown back then than now. There was no media then like there is today and we were taken completely by surprise," Eusebio said. "Korea has already proven against Brazil that it's not a weak team and we have to be very determined, very quick moving the ball around, solid in defence and, of course, the players need to find the inspiration to show on the pitch the talent they possess. I believe we will win."

Much of Portugal's inspiration and goal-scoring prowess will come from Cristiano Ronaldo, the team captain and the most expensive player in football history. Ronaldo smashed a long-range effort against the crossbar during Portugal's cautious opening match against the Ivory Coast, but he did little else. Still, the Real Madrid forward is the danger man - a fact acknowledged by the Koreans. "Ronaldo is better than Eusebio," said Jong Tae-se.

An Yong-hak, the midfielder, said Portugal would be tough because everyone "knows Ronaldo is the best player in the world". To prove it, Ronaldo - much like Eusebio did all those years ago - must rise to the occasion. Deco, the Portugal midfielder, was ruled out the game yesterday because of a recurring left hip injury. Carlos Queiroz, the coach, said he still hopes Deco can recover for the team's final group match against Brazil. "At the training session yesterday, he complained about left hip pains," Queiroz told a news conference. "He's had this before, there was no improvement today, so our medical team recommended that he shouldn't play."

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57 Seconds

Director: Rusty Cundieff
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Morgan Freeman, Greg Germann, Lovie Simone
Rating: 2/5

THREE POSSIBLE REPLACEMENTS

Khalfan Mubarak
The Al Jazira playmaker has for some time been tipped for stardom within UAE football, with Quique Sanchez Flores, his former manager at Al Ahli, once labelling him a “genius”. He was only 17. Now 23, Mubarak has developed into a crafty supplier of chances, evidenced by his seven assists in six league matches this season. Still to display his class at international level, though.

Rayan Yaslam
The Al Ain attacking midfielder has become a regular starter for his club in the past 15 months. Yaslam, 23, is a tidy and intelligent player, technically proficient with an eye for opening up defences. Developed while alongside Abdulrahman in the Al Ain first-team and has progressed well since manager Zoran Mamic’s arrival. However, made his UAE debut only last December.

Ismail Matar
The Al Wahda forward is revered by teammates and a key contributor to the squad. At 35, his best days are behind him, but Matar is incredibly experienced and an example to his colleagues. His ability to cope with tournament football is a concern, though, despite Matar beginning the season well. Not a like-for-like replacement, although the system could be adjusted to suit.

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Tottenham 4 (Alli 51', Kane 50', 77'. Aurier 73')

Olympiakos 2 (El-Arabi 06', Semedo')

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Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

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5.30pm Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,400m

Winner Spirit Of Light, Clement Lecoeuvre (jockey), Erwan Charpy (trainer)

6.05pm Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,900m

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Day 1 at Mount Maunganui

England 241-4

Denly 74, Stokes 67 not out, De Grandhomme 2-28

New Zealand 

Yet to bat

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

The Old Slave and the Mastiff

Patrick Chamoiseau

Translated from the French and Creole by Linda Coverdale

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Barcelona 1 (Mingueza 60')

Red card: Casemiro (Real Madrid)


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