You can argue whether Felipao is the right man to lead Brazil to the next World Cup or not but you can’t argue he’s not a better salesman for Brazilian football than his predecessor Mano Menezes.
I think Mano was dealt a rough deal as his teams were starting to play good football. And Felipao’s track record has been mixed since Brazil won the World Cup under his tutelage in 2002.
But many people reckon Felipao was brought in as much for his ability to rally the troops as for his tactical nous.
He proved that today, with a series of smart, entertaining and intelligent comments after the draw was made for the 2013 Confederations Cup. The managers of the other six nations – Uruguay’s Oscar Tabarez apart – were dull and boring in comparison.
SAO PAULO, Dec 1 – New Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari welcomed a tough Confederations Cup draw that pitted his team against Japan, Mexico and Italy and said failure to win next June’s tournament does not mean his side cannot lift the World Cup on home soil 12 months later.
Scolari, who was last week appointed Brazil manager for the second time, denied Spain was the hot favourite for the World Cup warm-up and said he aims to put together a team that will excite home supporters.
“I don’t see any team as favourite but I want to tell our fans that if we play at home … we have to play to win,” said the man known as Felipao, or Big Phil. “That is our goal.”
The draw for the tournament was made in Sao Paulo on Saturday morning, with Brazil drawn against Japan in the capital, Brasilia, on June 15, Mexico in Fortaleza on June 19, and Italy in Salvador three days later.
The other group comprises Uruguay, World and European champions Spain, the tiny Pacific island nation of Tahiti, and the yet-to-be decided champions of Africa.
“There is no group of death, this is a strong group just like we wanted,” said Scolari. “We want tough games that put us under pressure and get the fans going.”
The former Chelsea and Portugal coach pointed out that Brazil won the last two Confederations Cups but crashed out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage a year later.
“Brazil won the last two Confederations Cups and didn’t win the World Cups,” he said. “So having done well in the Confederations Cup masked (our situation) a bit. I don’t think that losing the Confederations Cup means we go to the World Cup with no one believing in us.”
Scolari said belief is an important factor, and getting home fans behind the team is a key challenge over the next 18 months. Brazil’s fans are as fickle as they are demanding and they have not shied away from booing their own players if they are not winning in style.
Felipao said he wanted people “to believe more, to feel more for the team, to go to stadiums”, and said the team will do its bit to bring a happier atmosphere to Brazil matches.
“We will look into how the players — they are, after all, the ones carrying the flag — can bring back an atmosphere of joy and friendliness,” he said.
“We are going to work with the technical commission to discuss ways to get people that aren’t involved with football more involved.”
The World Cup will take place in 12 Brazilian cities in June and July 2014. Brazil has not hosted the tournament since 1950, but it is the only team to win the World Cup five times.