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Nani: Ready to fire with both feet in SA

sports Updated: May 29, 2010 00:16 IST
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Luis Carlos Almeida da Cunha, known as Nani, has his work cut out for the 2010 World Cup. Having lived in countryman Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow at Manchester United, the flying winger will be aiming to break free in SA.

With six goals from 34 international caps, Nani played a vital part throughout Portugal's qualifying campaign. Clubbed in the group of death, Group G, with Ivory Coast, Brazil and North Korea, Portugal will open against Ivory Coast on June 15. Blessed with bags of speed and an ability to shoot with both feet, Nani will be needed with his prolific assists and shots.

The winger can be placed anywhere in the park and has an inventory of tricks that can easily outfox defenders. The 23-year-old might be flashy and dribble a little too much, but he has guaranteed himself a place in Carlos Queiroz's team.

Nani, who has had a poor season last year with Manchester United, started to blossom in late winter this year. His performance against Arsenal in January showcased the youngster's tricky footwork, electric pace and precise crossing. Later he showed the same class in the Champions League and Premier League as well.

The strong character is likely to be a product of growing up in a poor suburb of Lisbon. Nani was abandoned by his Cape Verde-born father when he was five and his mother departed a few years later, leaving Nani with an aunt.

He impressed with local club Real Massama before joining Sporting Lisbon’s academy and breaking into the first team aged 18. At 19, he marked his Portugal debut with a goal against Denmark.