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Know Your Brazilians

June 29, 2002

It takes a star of great magnitude to go by a single name, like Cher, or Madonna . . . or almost any Brazilian soccer player. But while the nicknames may be easier to deal with than the players' long full names, they can get confusing when they sound too much alike. Here's a handy guide for Sunday's championship game:

Edmilson #5

Full name: Jose Gomes de Moraes Edmilson. A central defender who plays in France for Olympique Lyonnaise. Has stood out in support of defenders Cafu and Roberto Carlos, and made highlight reels with his bicycle kick for a goal against Costa Rica in the first round.

Edilson #20

Full name: Edilson da Silva Ferreria. Secondary nickname: The Little Devil. Quick and prone to theatrics, the forward for the Brazilian club Cruzeiro got a chance to play in the semifinals with Ronaldinho sitting with two yellow cards. Missed his one shot by inches, will likely go back to the bench for the final.

Denilson #17

Full name: Denilson de Oliveira. Ahmad Rashad-lookalike who plays midfield at Real Betis in Spain, he is the team's most creative dribbler and playmaker. But his flightiness means that Brazil Coach Luiz Felipe "Big Phil" Scolari will use him only as a reserve.

Ronaldo #9

Full name: Ronaldo Nazario de Lima. Forward for Inter of Italy, he is one game away from completing rehabilitation as world's biggest soccer star, after he was missing in action during the 1998 final. Went from being over the hill three months ago after a series of injuries to leading the Cup in goals. Joined the ranks of players who got unfortunate haircuts during the tournament.

Rivaldo #10

Full name: Rivaldo Borba Ferreira. Stylish forward and attacking midfielder for Barcelona. Like Ronaldo, a typical Brazilian soccer success story, born into poverty but went on to be named the world player of the year in 1999. Not beloved among Brazilian fans because of sometimes indifferent play. His outstanding performance in the World Cup may finally win them over.

Ronaldinho #11

Full name: Ronaldinho Gaucho de Assas Moreira. Standout midfielder and forward for Paris St Germain. The 22-year-old is easily recognized by his long tresses. Has a flair for the dramatic, both good and bad: he scored the winning goal in the quarterfinals when his clever free kick caught England's David Seaman off his line, then picked up a red card that kept him out of the semifinals.

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