Football: Kamark the man for the main job

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The Independent Online
Whenever he broke away to join his team mates in the morning sun at Atletico Madrid's training centre, Pontus Kamark was called back for another interview with the Spanish media. It is not every day, after all, that you meet the man who had Brazil's pocket rocket in his pocket.

Leicester's manager, Martin O'Neill, would not confirm that Kamark would be instructed to shadow Juninho again in tonight's Uefa Cup first round, first leg, match with Atletico. But as the versatile Swede marked him out of the Coca-Cola Cup final against Middlesbrough, it will be a surprise if he is not. The difference, as O'Neill pointed out, is that Atletico have more players who can assume the creative mantle if their driving force is subdued.

"There's a danger of concentrating too much on Juninho because he's the one we know," he said. "By the end of the two games I'm sure we'll know other Atletico players equally well."

He has seen Atletico twice, once in the flesh and is under no illusions. "At times they build up slowly, then it suddenly becomes explosive," he said, as much in admiration as in trepidation.

Quite what Raddy Antic, his opposite number, has made of Leicester is harder to gauge. He had them watched in the defeat at Sheffield and and in Saturday's rout of Tottenham. "That was a heck of an improvement,"O'Neill said."If Hillsborough had been our last match, they wouldn't have expected many problems with us," O'Neill said.

He believed Atletico would be "very wary" of Emile Heskey. Antic will warn his team about Leicester's indomitable spirit, but must be confident that their high-speed touch play will find a way through, or round, a defence noted for aerial power rather than mobility.

Thirty six years ago, Gordon Banks saved a penalty but Atletico beat Leicester 2-0 here to advance in the Cup Winners' Cup. In 1980, John Robertson, O'Neill's No 2, won the European Cup for Nottingham Forest in Madrid. Two years later, O'Neill thought he had scored for Northern Ireland in the World Cup at tonight's venue, only for the referee to rule otherwise and France to win comfortably.

If history is to repeat itself, both will settle for Kamark shackling Juninho and Leicester upsetting the odds once more.