| scolari: Advocates change in spirit
Canoas (Brazil): Brazil’s World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is predicting a rough ride for his successor when the qualifiers for 2006 get underway next year and says the players will have to change their mentality.
Scolari led Brazil to their fifth world title in June but only after they had struggled through the South American qualifying competition, using 60 players and four coaches.
“It will be long and difficult again,” said Scolari, who stepped down in August saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and possibly coach a club in Europe.
His successor, who will lead the side towards Germany 2006, was yet to be named.
“Brazil’s big difficulty is that they have never learned how to play qualifiers. The problems we had this time were nothing new. In the qualifiers for 1990 and 1994 we also had trouble,” Scolari said in an exclusive interview.
The man known as Big Phil took over towards the end of the qualifying campaign and finally ensured Brazil continued their record as the only nation to have competed at every World Cup — but not before a 3-1 defeat in Bolivia left their place in the finals in danger with one match to go.
He said the players were partly to blame for thinking they could beat teams such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Chile by right. Brazil lost to all four countries on their way to Japan and South Korea.
“Brazil have to change the spirit of their players,” he said.
“They think they have won the game before they go on to the pitch. They think the yellow shirt will win the game.
“We need a change of thinking. To face a three-year qualifying competition and get the players motivated for every game will be an arduous task for the coach.”
Scolari ended his reign as coach with a record of 18 wins, one draw and six defeats in 25 games. He said he agreed with 1994 coach Carlos Alberto Parreira that the World Cup qualifying competition was tougher than the finals themselves.
“In the World Cup you have 30 days together and it’s not difficult in those 30 days to organise the team, to get the athletes into the right way of thinking, showing them videos, this and that,” he said.
But the qualifiers, when players who were scattered across Europe and Brazil gathered only four days before a game, were a different matter.
“They come from 40 directions, stay for three days and after the game get on a plane and go back to the countries they play in.
“As Parreira says, it’s much more difficult to play the qualifiers than the World Cup. I’m absolutely certain of it. The new coach will have to solve this problem.”
‘Rivaldo is the best’
Rivaldo, the inspiration of Brazil’s team at the World Cup, was one of the players who most struggled in the last qualifying competition.
He nearly quit international football after being jeered during a match at home against Colombia and was repeatedly accused of saving his best for Spanish club Barcelona, where he was playing until he moved to AC Milan in July.
Scolari said that one of the first tasks when he took over in June last year had been to give Rivaldo back his confidence.
“I told Rivaldo he could play 10 bad games and he would still be in the team. Of course, I was taking a gamble — imagine if he really played five or six bad games. The media would be on top of me.”
Scolari said he felt much of the criticism aimed at Rivaldo was unfair and the player had been a victim of his own shyness.
“Rivaldo should be considered one of the best players in Brazil. He has played 70 games for the national team and scored 35 or 36 goals — and nearly all of them in competitive games.
“The problem is he doesn’t do any marketing, he’s very shy and he doesn’t really like meeting the media, answering questions.
“At the World Cup, we told him to face up to them. If he didn’t like something, we told him to say so and not take bitterness on to the pitch. Spit it all out.
“I was pleasantly surprised. He was ready to do anything you asked of him — play on the left side, mark the opposition’s right-back when he attacks or their midfielder. He was ready for anything.”