Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Brazil offer ray of hope for World Cup 2010

It's a well worn cliché used by presenters at the top of their programme that a World Cup never really gets going until the boys from Brazil are in action.

So, that’s why the tournament was a load of rubbish up until last night then.

Now that Brazil have clocked up a 2-1 victory in what was an intriguing tussle with North Korea, from here on in expect classic matches, glorious goals and so much drama that you won’t notice the never ending drone of the vuvuzelas.

There is something special about watching Brazil perform on football’s grandest stage.

It’s the scintillating samba style of football that springs to mind with images of skill, swagger and stunning shots from distance swirling around the memory bank.

It’s the players, like legendary past winners Pele, Garrincha, Tostao, Carlos Alberto, Didi, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Romario, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Cafu rolling off the tongue.

Include Socrates, Falcao, Eder, Zico and Junior from that magical 1982 side, who didn’t win or reach the semi-finals for that matter, yet are still revered for playing the beautiful game the way it was intended.

It’s also the expectancy that they will go on to become champions having gone all the way five times before.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s just those bewitching yellow shirts. Is there a better kit in sport? And don't say Maria Sharapova's Wimbledon outfit!

Not having the Brazilians at the World Cup would be like Ant going on television without Dec.

Here’s hoping it will never happen. The former that is.

The boys from Brazil are most welcome to South Africa.

Let’s also put a mat out for North Korea, who were supposed to be whipping boys in this tournament along with New Zealand.

They may not have gained a famous draw like the Kiwis did earlier in the day against Slovakia, but they won lots of friends with their heart, attitude and commitment.

And don’t forget the emotion. Please, don’t forget the emotion.

Striker Jong Tae Se was crying his eyes out as his national anthem boomed out.

He’s called the “People’s Rooney” back home and with a little more composure in what was a fine display he could have had the Brazilians in tears.

There you go Wayne, bawl like a baby when God Save the Queen is played on Friday and you’ll shine against Algeria.

Finish like Ji Yun-nam did in the 89th minute and Fabio Capello will be delighted.

It was a well deserved goal for the spirit, effort and pride that North Korea put in but it came too late to give them an opportunity to repeat their monumental upset back in 1966 when amazingly they defeated Italy in Middlesbrough of all places.

By then Brazil had scored two exceptional goals themselves through Maicon — I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he meant to score at the near post — and Elano, whose slide rule finish complimented Robinho’s inch perfect pass.

Robinho, who outshone the disappointing Kaka, was Brazil’s stand out player, and not just because he tried to break Cristiano Ronaldo’s step-over world record. Manchester City fans may not thank me for saying this, but they really could do with him next season.

It wasn’t the best performance I’ve witnessed from a Brazilian side in the competition over the years — probably wouldn’t even make the top 20 — but given what had gone before in the tournament they, the grit of North Korea and the energy of the match itself was like a breath of fresh air. Others will hopefully follow suit.

The Brazilians have a habit of leading the way.

They were the first team to win the World Cup outside their own continent (Sweden 1958). They won the first World Cup held outside Europe and South America (USA 1994).

They won the first World Cup held in Asia (Japan/South Korea 2002). And now they are determined to win the first World Cup in Africa.

They’ve got a chance, but I suspect you already knew that.

Belfast Telegraph


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