Brazil Coach: We Could Win Again
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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said Tuesday that a new, more powerful Brazil, capable of wresting a record fifth World Cup, has emerged from the ashes of a disappointing qualifying campaign.
``When we started the qualifying tournament, we did not act as a team, and that affected our performance,″ Scolari told a news conference. ``Now we have a very good team. I think the situation is entirely different.″
The star-studded squad got down to serious training Tuesday, a day after arriving in this Southeast Asian country from Spain for its last training stop before heading to South Korea.
Toward the end of a two-hour morning session, the strikers Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Denilson, Luizao and Edilson _ along with attacking midfielder Ronaldinho _ carried out shooting drills under Scolari’s watchful eyes.
Rivaldo appeared to have recovered from knee problems that forced him to sit out several Spanish league games for Barcelona and Brazil’s 3-1 victory in last weekend’s friendly against Catalonia.
The world will have its first glimpse of Scolari’s new side, complete with the Ronaldo-Rivaldo partnership, when it faces Malaysia in a friendly Saturday.
``The starting lineup here will probably be the same as the match in Catalonia, with the additions of Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos,″ Scolari said.
Team captain Emerson, who plays for Roma, said that Brazil’s Group C opener against Turkey on June 3 will be difficult because the first match ``is always tough. It is a psychological thing.″
But Brazil is expected to easily dominate the group, which also includes China and Costa Rica. Emerson said that he wants to make up for the loss to France in the final four years ago.
``I was not happy about the final outcome against France,″ Emerson said. ``But in life, we can’t always win. I only hope that things will change this time around.″
Emerson picked Paris St. Germain star Ronaldinho _ part of the vaunted Triple R offense with Ronaldo and Rivaldo _ as Brazil’s player to watch.
``He is in excellent shape and he showed this in our last few matches,″ said Emerson, Brazil’s midfield enforcer. ``I am sure he will do well in the World Cup.″
Despite having some of the best players in the world, Brazil scraped through qualifying to make the cut for South Korea and Japan and maintain its record of playing in every edition of the World Cup.
Scolari made no apologies for stressing hard defense over the samba-style offense that Brazil has long prized.
``Our objectives are clear,″ Scolari said. ``Under me, I run the team like an enterprise. We must show results.″