Ronaldo, who will line up against Australia
in the World Cup in Munich on June 18, made the startling claim despite
having twice played against the Socceroos, including several of the
current Australian squad.
The striker, who has come under sustained attack from Real fans and the
Spanish media for poor form and a perceived weight problem, claimed he
only knew of one Australian player, "the one who plays for Osasuna" –
meaning John Aloisi, who scored the winning penalty in the playoff with
Uruguay but who actually left Spanish side Osasuna months ago to join
In an interview with Alpha magazine, he also said that teams such as
Australia would be "all excited" about playing in the World Cup, but
warned that progress to the second round would be "more difficult".
"There is no key to success that I can give you," he added.
"Each national team will try to eliminate the others. And as far as
Australia is concerned, even if I had a clue, I would not give it to you."
His insulting claim is all the more remarkable given that Ronaldo played
against Australia twice at the Confederations Cup in 1997, and at least
five of that Socceroo side will very likely be in the 2006 group.
His indifference may stem from the second of those games, in which
Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, but earlier in the tournament the Terry
Venables-coached Socceroos held Brazil to a 0-0 draw.
Yet in the interview, Ronaldo says: "All the best players from all the
best countries are coming to play. I believe that countries with less
tradition and less experience in World Cups will not have the same
Last night former Socceroo coach Frank Farina said Ronaldo's insult
could work to the team's advantage.
"It's a total lack of respect for him to come out and say that – even if
you don't know any players, the humble thing is to say, 'They're a good
side, we're wary of them'.
"I think this could stand us in good stead and give us a surprise factor,"
he said. "It shows that the players are maybe underestimating us.
"I know that their coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, is quite
complimentary about us, but maybe he'll have a job to get that across to
"If that's the players' mindset, it could turn round and bite them on
Ronaldo's claims came as the coach of another of Australia's World Cup
opponents, Croatia, declared that he expects to qualify for the second
round, and insisted his team is better than both Australia and Japan.
Zlatk o Kranjcar said that "compared to Japan and Australia, we have a
good chance of qualifying for the second round.
"I think my team are a few points better than Australia and Japan."
He added: "With the quality in our team, we should reach the second
Showing remarkable confidence, Kranjcar also claimed his team could
actually win the tournament. "Maybe we can reach the final. Croatia have
some very good individuals and the players have shown in public and in
the media that we are a strong and unified team.
"We might be the ones to cause an upset at the World Cup," he told the