ON (AFP) Portugal star Deco insists that the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo is not going to derail the countrys bid to reach the World Cup finals in South Africa.
Carlos Queirozs Portuguese limped through their qualifying campaign looking nothing like the team which reached the 2006 semi-finals under former handler Luiz Felipe Scolari.
After a dismal start they eventually muscled past Sweden and Hungary to take the runners-up spot at the death behind Denmark. Now the highly-gifted but unpredictable Bosnia Herzegovina come calling in the first-leg of the play-offs. Despite the unavailability of Ronaldo owing to the Real Madrid stars ankle trouble, Chelsea star Deco says the 'lusitanos will complete the job. We have enough quality to plug the gap - we cant use his absence as an excuse. We know it wont be easy but we are confident, the Chelsea midfielder insisted Thursday, while Queiroz told FIFA.com: Im 100 percent convinced well be there.
The former Manchester United assistant manager added that if we qualify, Portugal will definitely be firm contenders to win South Africa 2010, or at least finish on the podium with, by that stage, Ronaldo back in tow.
Before then, however, the Bosnians, whom Queiroz described as a fantastic team, must be turned over.
With Edin Dzeko having scored nine times in the qualifiers to help see off both Turkey and Belgium, the Wolfsburg marksman is the key dangerman for a team coached by the wily Miroslav Blazevic, who led Croatia to third place in the 1998 finals.
Blazevic says hed have preferred to draw France to gain revenge for the Croatians defeat in the 1998 semi-final.
Its a shame we didnt get France - I wanted revenge for 1998, even though I dont like that word. I have a lot of respect for Portugal, but they do not quite have the same standing as France, who have been world and European champions.
For Dzeko, the Portuguese are clear favourites - but that doesnt faze him.
They have a great team and a huge amount of experience, although that doesnt mean we dont stand a chance.
Its over two legs, and if we can come away from their place with a decent result, anythings possible, the striker told FIFA.com.