BRASÏLIA: Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari believes his team can grow into a “great” side after seeing his Neymar-inspired outfit sweep past Japan 3-0 in their Confederations Cup opener.
Never a man to get carried away, 2002 World Cup winner Scolari was visibly pleased after the Selecao sent the Asian champions packing in Brasilia in their Group A clash.
“I believe what pleased me most was the result,” said Scolari, the man to whom Brazil impatiently turned ahead of the Confederations Cup draw last November after dumping Mano Menezes shortly after the latter had overseen a 4-0 friendly win over the Japanese.
“If we can keep evolving tactically, and the players can deal with whatever gets thrown at them, then we can be a great team.
“I think Neymar did a really great job — he went off as he took a knock,” Scolari added, referring to the Barcelona-bound starlet who scored a magnificent opening goal before being substituted in the closing stages.
Scolari alluded to the difficulty of keeping demanding fans of the Selecao happy by saying that “if you can score in the opening three minutes then of course the crowd is going to be more friendly to us and get behind us.”
With Mexico, their Olympic final conquerors, to come on Wednesday before a showdown with three-time world champions Italy, Scolari said Brazil must not think they already have a foot in the semi-finals.
“We must beware of Mexico and get over that hurdle Wednesday. Mexico have been making life complicated for us for a few years now,” he noted.
While praising Neymar, as he has done regularly throughout a recent barren patch in terms of goals, Scolari made a point of also lauding number nine Fred, who did not add to his recent tally of five goals in six internationals but chose to chest down for Neymar’s superlative strike.
“Fred does not just goal hang and sit around and score. Players need to know how to position themselves and that’s why Fred is very useful,” said Scolari, who believes his team is slowly taking shape after mediocre form in some recent friendlies.
“I think we are evolving. We do need to be more compact. We are not perfect but if we can keep our balance and shape we can match any opponent,” the 64-year-old said.