Scolari praises fans but says hard to play at home
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Brazil arrived at the Confederations Cup not knowing if its fans would cheer or jeer when the team entered the field.
After being booed several times at home because of a series of poor results, players were wary of the reaction they would get from local fans in the World Cup warm-up competition. It turned out Brazil got the support it needed, and players said that was crucial to help lead the team to Sunday’s final at the Maracana in Rio.
But coach Luiz Felipe Scolari acknowledges that there are disadvantages to playing at home, saying distractions can get in the way of the team’s preparations.
“It’s like hell here,” Scolari said. “In the 2002 World Cup it was easier because it was away from Brazil. The biggest problem for Brazil is that the World Cup is in Brazil.”
Scolari has also praised the support of Brazilian fans at the Confederations Cup, saying they are putting pressure on Brazil’s opponents and are playing a significant role in the team’s success. But he thinks it’s hard to keep the squad focused on the tournament with so many things happening around the national team.
“It’s great to play with the fans behind you, but when you leave the hotel you have to deal with 1,000 people wanting to talk to you,” Scolari said. “Everybody always wants something from us, the fans want to watch the training, the journalists want interviews, but we can’t do what everybody wants.”
Scolari has been criticized for closing most of Brazil’s practice sessions to fans and for not allowing supporters to have more contact with the players.
“We need some privacy,” he said. “Otherwise we will start losing the World Cup even before it starts.”
Scolari said that sometimes it’s not his fault that fans can’t have more contact with the team, and that Brazil must follow FIFA regulations regarding training sessions and players’ access to fans.
But he won’t let go of the support the fans are giving the team inside the stadiums.
“Our opponents are feeling the pressure when they see our fans singing in the stands,” the coach said. “They are doing everything right, they are getting behind us even when the team is going through some difficulties on the field.”
The match against Uruguay on Wednesday was a good example. Although Brazil didn’t play well, the fans never stopped cheering and supporting the national team.
It was a pleasant contrast from the last time Brazil played at the Mineirao, when nearly 50,000 fans booed the squad after a disappointing draw in a friendly against Chile. The jeers came in previous matches, too, as Scolari struggled to get his team to play well after retaking charge in December.
With a five-match winning streak under way, things are much easier.
“It think it all began in the friendly against France, before the Confederations Cup, when we played well again and got a good victory,” Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar said. “We hadn’t won in a long time and that was adding a lot of pressure on us. After that we got the fans on our side again. It was a relief because we didn’t know what it would be like if we arrived without being able to play well.”
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