Brazil players are keeping their distance from the team's fans during their World Cup preparations in South Africa, although a few local students managed to catch a glimpse of the squad.
Brazil is hoping to avoid a repeat of the frenzied atmosphere that players blamed for the team's elimination four years ago in Germany, and only journalists are allowed access to the team in South Africa. But in the team's first full practice session in South Africa on Friday, a few dozen students and school employees were able to get near the field after sneaking into a local school where the team is training.
"What a privilege to have them play here in our field," said 28-year-old teacher Xander Vandyk. "It's one of the greatest things ever happening for the school. We are all very excited."
Classes were canceled on Friday, but teachers were at the school, along with some students who came in to try to watch the Brazil team.
"They are just great, I can't believe I'm being able to see them," said Chaneze Gideons, an 18-year-old senior at Randburg High School. "All I want to see is Kaka and Robinho."
The team's preparations for the 2006 World Cup were marked by a party atmosphere that players and coaches said was detrimental to the team. Thousands of fans were allowed to follow nearly all of Brazil's training sessions and a fan zone was set up near the team's base in Weggis, Switzerland. Brazil lost 1-0 to France in the quarterfinals.
"We had some 5,000 people following the team," goalkeeper Julio Cesar said. "I don't even think it affected our focus during the practices, but it's a big difference from what we have here."
Many of the fans watching on Friday wore Brazil shirts but did not appear to disrupt the players.
Some students were disappointed that the current Brazil team is missing players such as Ronaldo, Adriano and Ronaldinho, but that won't stop them from supporting the Brazilians.
"We were surprised not to see some of them, but it's still a good team, we can't complain," 26-year-old teacher Shaun Carelse said. "We support the Bafana Bafana, but after that we are Brazil all the way."
Seeking its sixth world title, Brazil will play two matches in Johannesburg against North Korea on June 15 and the Ivory Coast on June 20. It then plays its last Group G match on June 25 against Portugal in Durban.