Scolari feeling weight of Brazil’s expectations

Rio de Janeiro, May 7 (IANS) Brazil’s football confederation (CBF) president Jose Maria Marin has guaranteed the future of national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, even if his team fails to impress during Confederations Cup in June.

Those words could be interpreted as lip service given Marin issued the same assurance to Mano Menezes in August last year following Brazil’s defeat to Mexico in the final of the London Olympics, reports Xinhua.

Three months and seven victories from eight matches later, Menezes was sacked. But Scolari will likely take greater comfort than Menezes from Marin’s public show of support.

Despite Brazil’s unflattering sequence of recent results, Marin knows his credibility now rides on the fortunes of the 2002 World Cup-winning coach in his second stint in the role.

“I think that everything takes time,” Marin said Monday. “My concern now is with the Confederations Cup and especially the World Cup.”

“Of course we want to win the Confederations Cup but if for some reason we are not able to win it, it won’t affect the job of Luiz Felipe Scolari and his technical department. They will continue working normally.”

Scolari’s men have slipped to 19th in the FIFA world rankings, the country’s lowest position since the system was adopted in 1993.

The slide can in part be attributed to a lack of competitive matches owing to the team’s automatic qualification for the World Cup as host nation.

But it also reflects a worrying run of form against top sides. The five-time world champions have not beaten a former World Cup-winning opponent since November 2009, when they eclipsed England 1-0 in Doha.

A 2-1 defeat to England in February this year was followed by 2-2 and 1-1 draws against Italy and Russia respectively – Brazil’s only FIFA-recognized internationals since Scolari’s reappointment.

While nobody in Scolari’s camp is panicking, there have been signs the former Portugal and Chelsea boss is beginning to feel the pressure.

Scolari, renowned for his affable demeanor with the press, lost his cool last month when asked if his position would be under threat if Brazil failed to progress beyond the Confederations Cup group stage.

“That is a joke,” the 64-year-old snapped, before storming out of a press conference.

Brazil will open the Confederations Cup against Japan in Brasilia, June 15. Before that, the team will meet England at Rio’s revamped Maracana stadium, June 2 and France at Porto Alegre’s Arena Gremio a week later.

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