Saturday, April 10, 2010

Soccer: Brazil's big names take back seat

Brazil will have a different look at this year's World Cup in South Africa: The beautiful game will be superseded by effective soccer.

After a disappointing performance in the last World Cup despite a squad filled with some of the world's top players, Brazil 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 any more," 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 and Adriano.

Known for his toughness on and off the field, Dunga gave Brazil a new face, getting players to add heart and commitment to their refined technique.

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"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 criticised for their lack of effort and poise in Germany four years ago, and Dunga pledged to change that.

He said he wanted a team with attitude, and it has paid off, 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.

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 Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho despite pressure from fans.

By Tales Azzoni

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