Monday, June 28, 2010

Brazil's beautiful game now has spine of steel



Johannesburg, June 29 : Brazil sent out an ominous warning to their World Cup rivals Monday with a clinical 3-0 defeat of Chile to set up a quarter-final clash with the Netherlands.

The Selecao seemed capable of scoring at will against Chile at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and coach Carlos Dunga said he would now reduce the length of training sessions so his players can continue to produce a more expansive game than seen in the group stages.

The laborious victory against North Korea in the opening game, when Dunga faced accusations of betraying Brazil's footballing heritage, seemed an age away as goals from Juan, Luis Fabiano and Robinho simply blew away the Chileans.

More frighteningly for the Dutch, who face Brazil Friday in Port Elizabeth for a place in the last four, is that Brazil barely moved out of second gear, and Dunga sees considerable room for improvement.

"We've already said that in these World Cup games, that we have to play an open game, and that is what we saw," he said. "As we go along, game by game, our confidence is growing."

Dunga revealed that Brazil are leaving nothing to chance in South Africa, with nutrition, training and recovery times for his players all coming under the microscope to ensure the South Americans go home with a sixth World Cup title.

Kaka is one player who has experienced Dunga's attention to detail and is following a strict regime to ensure he is soon capable of playing a full 90 minutes, as he continues his comeback from a troublesome groin injury.

The Real Madrid star managed to last 81 minutes against Chile and set up the second goal for Fabiano, but Dunga admitted concern about the playmaker picking up another booking following his sending off against Ivory Coast, calling it "a problem".

But Dunga saw enough glimpses of quality from the 28-year-old to know that Kaka is on the right track, while the coach's no-nonsense attitude has even succeeded in turning the often enigmatic Robinho into a complete team player.

The Santos striker left Manchester City under a cloud but has fulfilled the role required by Dunga in South Africa, swapping positions with Kaka when needed.

"I only need to say a few words, and the players know what they should do and where they should play," Dunga said. "I have told them that they have the liberty to play. I try to give them advice to guide them, so that they put in the best performance possible."

Dunga's only concern is that Brazil must now leave their base in Johannesburg and travel to Port Elizabeth for the quarter-final tie against the Dutch before a possible semi-final match in Cape Town.

"We were very well settled in our hotel in a very favourable atmosphere, and we are now going to have to move from city to city and hotel to hotel, and this causes its own confusion," he said.

"It would be better to remain where we are."

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