Brazilian legend Ronaldo on his nation recovering from their World Cup scars
A 7-1 semi-final thrashing and the 3-0 play-off defeat have led to a new manager and a new captain
Ronaldo in action back in 2004 for Brazil v Republic of Ireland in Lansdowne Road. Photograph: David Maher/Edi
Brazil’s new manager Dunga faces an uphill battle to repair the scars of Brazil’s World Cup campaign, but is at least looking like he might be on the right path, according to former Brazil striker Ronaldo.
Dunga, whose real name is Carlos Bledorn Verri, replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari after the World Cup that Brazil hosted earlier this year and ended with a humiliating 7-1 thrashing by eventual champions Germany in the semi-finals.
The Brazilians then lost the third-place playoff 3-0 to the Netherlands and with confidence shaken in the soccer-mad country, the former World Cup winner has gone about trying to restore the team’s pride.
“It’s early to see any changes in the Brazilian team,” said Ronaldo.
“It was very difficult and hard to forget about the World Cup and the loss against Germany.
“I know Dunga has a very hard job to do to bring some confidence to the players.”
The 51-year-old Dunga, who previously coached Brazil from 2006 to 2010, won the 2007 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup but was sacked after losing to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.
Since replacing Scolari in July, however, his Brazil side have won their last six matches, including a 2-1 victory over Austria on Tuesday.
History of Brazilian captains
He has courted some controversy with his decision to appoint striker Neymar as captain, dumping World Cup captain Thiago Silva, who complained he had not been told by the coach of the decision.
But two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo, who scored 62 goals in 98 matches for Brazil, thinks the 22-year-old Neymar will prove to be a good leader for the South Americans.
“I think it’s good to have Neymar because he is in great form,” Ronaldo said at a Poker Stars event in London.
“The history in Brazil is for the coach to choose players that have a lot of leadership.
“But Thiago Silva is a great captain too so I don’t think it’s a problem.”
The former record holder for goals in World Cup finals added he hoped Neymar would be one of the three shortlisted finalists announced on December 1st for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award.
Tipping his namesake
The 38-year-old, who was named the world’s best player three times, however thinks that last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo will take it ahead of Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi when the winner is announced on January 12th.
“I think Cristiano Ronaldo is going to win again,” he said. “He is playing very well and he still scores a lot of goals.
“I think (Lionel) Messi is very good but this year he’s not so fantastic as always.
“But we will see, I hope that Neymar can be in the final three.”