Ronaldo arrives in Brazil
Cristiano Ronaldo (AFP)
Campinas - With a green cap on backwards and wearing glasses, Cristiano Ronaldo took his first few steps at the World Cup in Brazil on Wednesday with no sign of the left leg injuries that have troubled the world player of the year's build-up.
Ronaldo strolled off Portugal's plane as the squad flew in a day after a 5-1 friendly win over Ireland in the United States. The victory was his comeback game after being sidelined for two few weeks with tendinitis in the knee and a thigh problem, both in his left leg.
The Portuguese captain and playmaker lifted his hand and coolly pointed his finger to acknowledge fans who called out "Ronaldo!" as he made his way across the tarmac at an airport near Campinas, a city around 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Brazil's business capital Sao Paulo. Portugal will be based in Campinas.
On the other side of the runway, construction workers in red uniforms abandoned their jobs temporarily and lined up along a fence, straining their eyes to try and catch a glimpse of the Real Madrid star.
Ronaldo started the easy win over the Irish in New Jersey on Tuesday night and played 65 minutes, easing fears over his fitness for Portugal's opening game against Germany on Monday. Defender Fabio Coentrao said that victory in Portugal's final tuneup was an important boost.
"Of course, a 5-1 victory has given us a lot of confidence," Coentrao said.
Coach Paulo Bento, who led the players off the plane wearing a team tracksuit, didn't talk directly about Ronaldo's return from injury in East Rutherford, his first game since the May 24 Champions League final. Bento did say there was a general feeling of ease in the camp.
"We are trying to rest as much as we can but still we have to be ready for the first game that we play," Bento said. "We have come through a process and we have had some difficulties at certain points. It has been a bit more complicated than usual but we have made it."
The coach also called for some local support for his team.
To encourage that and to get off on the right foot, Portugal's plane flew the Portuguese and Brazilian flags side by side out of the window of the cockpit as it taxied toward the parking bay.
"We hope for, we wish for and we desire the support of the Brazilian people," Bento told reporters on the tarmac.
Portugal faces Germany, the United States and Ghana in Group G.