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Samba overtakes tiki-taka


The Samba boys were brilliant. Somehow, propelled by the pressure of an agitated public, the Brazilian national team found the motivation to perform even their own pre-tournament expectations to win the 2013 Confederations Cup.

On the other hand, the tiki-taka boys were short-changed by fortune. For the first time in a long while, ‘luck’ deserted the Spanish. On the night of Sunday, June 30, nothing worked for their national team.

I can identify completely with what went on inside the magnificent Maracana Stadium that night as Brazil destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the Spanish ‘Armada’.

In 1980 I was a participant in a similar setting. Nigeria hosted the 12th Africa Cup of Nations. The Green Eagles (as the national team of Nigeria was then known) had climbed ‘Mount Everest’ to get to the final match where Algeria, the undoubted national team of that era in Africa, were waiting.

Nigeria, like Brazil in 2013, scored their first goal inside two minutes, totally altering the dynamics of the match. The Algerians, like the Spanish, were stunned. The stadium shook to its foundation under the force of 100 000 rapturous Nigerian supporters.

Late in the first half, a second goal came. It broke the camel’s back. The Algerians could not fight their way back. By the time the third goal inevitably came, the Algerians, like Spain last Sunday, were humbled, tottering and groping like blind men in the dark.

That’s why I say I can understand the nightmare the Spaniards must have gone through last Sunday against a merciless, rampaging Brazilian team that was on turbo-charge.

The score-line did not reflect the competitiveness of the match. The Spaniards looked so frustrated that many people already believe it is the end of their era of dominance of world football. Many also wishfully believe that Brazil are back at the top for good.

I will not go that far yet with my own assessment.

Before the tournament, it was only their co-host status that made a few analysts list them as co-favourites with Spain. As the championship progressed the team built up their confidence, which bolstered their performance.

By the time they met Italy stopping them became mission impossible. Against Uruguay, they changed into overdrive and found the depth in character that gave them the championship.

Although Brazil won in the end, they did not dismember the Spanish style. The Spaniards were unlucky not to have scored any of the good chances they created, along with losing a penalty kick early in the game and also losing Gerard Pique through a deserved red card late in the match.

Yet, even with 10 players Spain still managed to put up a fight and provided some delightful football.

Brazil were a shade better and luckier on the night.

Without question Brazil deserved to win the 2013 Confederations Cup. They played with conviction and showed the world they were ready to obliterate the ‘disaster’ of 1950 and win the World Cup in 2014.

Of course, that is wishful thinking. Waiting to join the fray are Lionel Messi’s Argentina and a star-laden and in-form Germany. Meanwhile, Brazil can enjoy their pole position in the race for the 2014 World Cup.


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