Cabral: Sunderland debut will only be special if we win

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SUMMER signing Cabral says his long-awaited Premier League debut will only be memorable if Sunderland emerge victorious tomorrow.

Bosman arrival Cabral spurned interest from several Champions League sides this summer to fulfil his objective of playing in English football.

And the midfielder will get his first taste of the Premier League this weekend when Fulham visit the Stadium of Light.

But Cabral says personal sentiments are irrelevant, with Paolo Di Canio’s new-look Sunderland desperate to begin the campaign on a winning note.

He told the Echo: “It’s a special game for me because this is the league that I’ve wanted to play in.

“Playing in the Premier League has been my objective as a footballer.

“Now I just hope I can make a good debut and get a win to begin the season well. It’s perfect to begin at the Stadium of Light, but only if we win.

“If we could win that would be perfect.

“Of course, for confidence, it’s important to begin the season with a win.

“We could play a good match and maybe lose, even if we score a few goals. But you want to say you’ve won the first match and continue like that.”

Cabral is relieved Sunderland are on the verge of beginning their competitive fixtures after a draining pre-season of fitness work under Di Canio’s meticulous schedule.

Yet the 24-year-old is confident about Sunderland’s prospects tomorrow after gaining encouragement from the signs both on the training field and during the Black Cats’ friendly programme.

“We’ve done a lot of training and played games in Italy, Hong Kong and Denmark,” he said. “There’s been a lot of travelling so we’re happy that now we can begin the season.

“The training has been very, very, very hard. The fitness work has been tough.

“But if we need to suffer for a good season, then that’s a good thing to go through.

“Now we are happy that it has finished and we can begin the season.

“I think that the team is looking very good this year.

“I know we’ve brought in a lot of new players, but I’m confident for the season.”

While Sunderland have added nine players to the first-team squad, Fulham’s recruitment has been more modest.

Fulham boss Martin Jol has brought in goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, midfielder Derek Boateng, defender Fernando Amorebieta and on-loan QPR man Adel Taarabt.

But while Fulham may be a more established unit Cabral hopes Sunderland’s recruits can quickly find their feet.

The former Basle man added: “They have a lot of good players like (Dimitar) Berbatov, (Bryan) Ruiz and (Steve) Sidwell.

“They are a team who play some good football, with an excellent defence.

“It’s probably 50-50.

“They have probably played together more whereas we have a lot of new players. But hopefully we can adapt and as I said, it’s important that we win.”