In this week’s Game Breakers feature Soccer Laduma discusses whether Brazil coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, might lead the Selecao to their second World Cup title under his helm.
The 65-year-old has proven his qualities when he won the 2002 World Cup with his home country, but also served as the manager of the Portuguese national team.
In June 2001, Scolari was appointed manager of his native Brazil, who with five games remaining were in danger of not qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Despite losing his first game to Uruguay, Scolari eventually guided the team to qualification.
Based on their poor World Cup qualification campaign, Brazil wasn’t amongst the top favourites for the tournament. But a team inspired by the three R’s – Ronaldo, Rovaldo and Ronaldinho – went through the tournament winning all their games.
They left the group stages with three wins and 11-3 goals, then defeated Belgium 2-0 in the round-of-16. Against England in the quarter-finals, Brazil won 2-1 and in the semi-final they beat surprise package Turkey 1-0.
The final was between two of the most successful teams in the competition’s history and Brazil beat Germany 2-0. Ronaldo’s eight goals won him the Golden Boot, while Rivaldo scored five goals and Ronaldinho two.
At the end of 2002, Scolari resigned and then served Portugal between July 2003 and June 2008. He led the team to the 2004 EURO final, where they lost to underdogs Greece. In 2006 Scolari’s Portugal finished fourth at the World Cup and he resigned two years later after losing 3-2 to Germany in the second round of the 2008 EURO.
He then had a short intermezzo in the Premier League at Chelsea, but failed to impress at Stamford Bridge. After stints in Uzbekistan and Palmeiras, Scolari returned to the Selecao in November 2012 with the mandate to win the 2014 home World Cup.
He led the squad around ‘wonderkid’ Neymar to a convincing triumph in the 2013 Confederations Cup. The Selecao beat Japan, Mexico, Italy, Uruguay and current World Cup champions Spain to win the second successive Confed Cup.
Neymar was named Player of the Tournament, striker Fred won the the Silver Shoe and goalkeeper Julio Cesa the Golden Glove. The victory has shown that Scolari has injected the Brazil squad with new confidence and believe.
Scolari says his current squad might not be as experienced as the 2002 team, which won Brazil’s fifth and last World Cup trophy, but ‘has a lot of drive and enthusiasm’.
Out of their last 20 competitive games, Brazil only lost two and if Scolari succeeds in boosting Neymar’s confidence after a stuttering first season at Barcelona, the home nation belongs to the top favourites.
The 65-year-old might not draw as much attention as his stars-picked squad, but it might be his experience and calmness which will help Brazil to success.
Can the veteran coach lead the Selecao to a second World Cup under his helm? Have your say in the comment section below.