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By ESPN Staff

Deco doubtful for Portugal opener

Portugal are sweating on the fitness of playmaker Deco ahead of their World Cup opener against Angola in Cologne on Sunday.

The Barcelona midfielder was forced to withdraw from training this morning after sustaining an injury to his left foot in a clash with team-mate Costinha.

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will wait for 12 hours before deciding whether to include Deco in his plans.

Deco insists Portugal are a much better side than they were two years ago when the Euro 2004 hosts lost out in the final to Greece.

He clearly believes Portugal are still a side on the up under Scolari and is already eyeing a quarter-final meeting with Argentina and a head-to-head with Barcelona team-mates Lionel Messi, Maxi Lopez and Javier Saviola, who is on loan at Sevilla.

'Our team has improved very much since the European championship in Portugal 2004,' he said.

'I have got no favourite opponent for the next round (knockout round) but I hope Argentina will also advance to the quarter-finals. I have a lot of friends in the team.'

Portugal ought to get off to a winning start against Angola but Deco is taking nothing for granted against the African outfit - 'our match against Angola is going to be difficult', he warned.

Angola coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves believes the World Cup novices can benefit from their appearance at the under-21 World Cup finals in Argentina in 2001.

Angola performed creditably in that competition when they were under the leadership of Goncalves, who has persisted with many of the players in that team since taking the reins of the senior side.

Goncalves said: 'We have already competed at world level and now we must only have faith in our abilities.'

Goncalves has said he will be satisfied with reaching the last 16. where Holland would be the likely opponents of the Black Antelopes.