PORT ELIZABETH: Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz hinted on Tuesday that Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba had benefited from special treatment which allowed him to play with a protective cast on his broken arm.
Drogba fractured his right arm on June 4 but was given permission to come on as a second half substitute in the World Cup Group G tie which ended 0-0 after receiving special authorisation from match referee, Jorge Lorrianda of Uruguay.
The Chelsea attacker`s arrival on the pitch wearing a protective cast almost tipped the game in Ivory Coast`s favour as he went close to snatching an injury time winner at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.
Drogba was cleared to play at a meeting on Monday evening involving Lorrianda and officials from FIFA, Ivory Coast and Portugal.
Queiroz though expressed concern, commenting after the match: "It`s not up to us to decide if he (Drogba) plays or not, it was up to FIFA.
"In Monday`s meeting FIFA said it was up to the referee whose decision they said would be final.
"That seemed a bit odd to us. You have players who can`t wear a string bracelet or plaster, yet here is a player who has fractured his arm and who could put our players at risk with his (protective) cast.
"Drogba is an African superstar and we want to know if all the rules will be the same for everyone - he was allowed to play with a cast, perhaps the rules will be changed."
Drogba himself, speaking about his injury, said: "If I had had even one percent doubt (about my ability to play) I wouldn`t have asked to be on the bench.
"The decision was taken yesterday evening after a chat with the coach."
Drogba`s national manager Sven Goran Eriksson expanded on how Drogba had come to be listed on the team sheet.
"We decided after Monday training. After dinner I chatted to Didier, he said he`d prefer to begin on the bench but said `if you need me boss I`m ready`.
"I hoped we wouldn`t have to use him today but we wanted to win the game so we did what we did.
"With an injury like he has only he and the doctors can decide - I put no pressure on him at all."
BDST: 1108hrs, June 16, 2010