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A different Brazil at World Cup in South Africa

A different Brazil at World Cup in South Africa

Brazil will have a different look at this year's World Cup in South Africa: The beautiful game will be superceded by effective football.
After a disappointing performance in the last World Cup despite a squad filled with some of the world's top players, Brazil now will try to focus on results. Forget about trying to impress with skills and nifty moves. Getting wins and advancing in the tournament is what it will be about.
"It's not about the big names anymore," Brazil coach Dunga said. "It's about players who can go out there and perform the best they can perform."
The former national team captain revamped the squad and Brazil regained the fans' respect after being eliminated by France in the quarterfinals of the 2006 tournament, when the five-time champions failed to impress despite having Kaka, Ronaldinho, Adriano and several other stars in top form.
Known for his toughness on and off the field, Dunga gave Brazil a new face, getting players to add heart and commitment to their already refined technique.
"It's what the fans wanted," Dunga said. "They wanted players with enthusiasm, committed to the team. Now the players are trying to give what the fans wanted."
The players were heavily criticized for their lack of effort and poise in Germany four years ago, and Dunga pledged to change that for the 2010 tournament. He said he wanted a team with attitude, and it has paid off so far, with Brazil arriving in South Africa boosted by significant results under the coach's new style.
The team won the 2007 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup, and earned victories in high-profile friendlies against Argentina, Italy, England and Portugal.
Brazil also won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and finished first in South American World Cup qualifying.
"The fans are buying into our philosophy because the results are there," Dunga said.
The coach began revamping the Brazilian team as soon as he replaced Carlos Alberto Parreira after the 2006 World Cup. He left most of the team's stars off the squad, and said he would only summon players who cared about the national team and prioritized the "Selecao" instead of their clubs.
"Before, people complained that the players didn't like playing for the national team," Dunga said. "But now we see players fighting with their clubs so they can be with the 'Selecao.' That's the norm now."
Kaka, Adriano, Robinho and several other players from the last World Cup team will certainly be back in South Africa, but Dunga likely won't recall names such as Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho despite pressure from fans who say they are playing well enough to be on the team again.
Although Dunga says he will wait until the last minute to choose his World Cup squad, none of those high-profile players were in the coach's list for Brazil's last scheduled friendly before the World Cup, against Ireland in March.
Instead, Dunga stuck with some lesser-known players such as Elano, Julio Baptista, Ramires, Josue, Nilmar and Gilberto _ most of them who have been regulars since Dunga took over the team.
"I still dream of playing in the World Cup," said the 33-year-old Ronaldo, the all-time World Cup final tournament scoring leader with 15 goals. "But I have to prove on the field that I deserve to be there. It's the only thing I can do."
From the starters in the 2006 tournament, only Lucio, Juan, Kaka and Gilberto Silva are back in the squad and likely going to South Africa. Dida, Cafu and Ze Roberto are some of those who have lost their spots.
And with several newcomers on the team, Brazil's chances of winning a record sixth world title will rely heavily on the leadership of its veterans, especially Real Madrid playmaker Kaka.
The former world player of the year will be the team's top star, supported on defense by experienced of central defenders Lucio and Juan, and on attack by strikers Robinho, Luis Fabiano and Adriano.
Dunga's only doubt in the squad seems to be at left back, where several players have been tested but none has secured a spot. Even right back Daniel Alves has had to play in the position.
Brazil will open against North Korea on June 15 in Johannesburg, and then face Ivory Coast on June 20, also in Johannesburg. The last match in Group G will be against Portugal five days later in Durban.


Updated : 2021-05-14 10:30 GMT+08:00