By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The CBF (Brazilian Football Federation) has opted for an easier path in the nation’s preparation for the 2014 World Cup after failing yet again to defeat one of the world’s leading footballing countries. Last Wednesday (August 10th) Brazil succumbed 3-2 against Germany in Stuttgart in another mediocre performance following last month’s Copa America disaster.
The last seven days has also been a milestone date for coach Mano Menezes, who marked his first anniversary in charge of the Seleção (national team). But there were no happy returns as his side failed to shine against high quality opposition.
Brazil have now lost to Argentina, never forgivable in this corner of the world, France and Germany while managing a draw against Holland. In none of the games did the Seleção manage to find the back of the net.
Menezes continues to preach patience, asking fans to play the long game and give his methods time. But now he is running against the clock.
Mindful of the mounting pressure on his coach, CBF president Ricardo Teixeira has taken the option of swapping two of Brazil’s opponents for upcoming friendlies. Rather than face European giants Italy and Spain, the 2006 and 2010 world champions respectively, Brazil will now play against Gabon, in 60th place in the FIFA world rankings, Costa Rica, ranked 56th and Egypt, ranked 34th, later this year.
While friendlies against less prestigious opponents is more likely to see the side return victorious and boost the morale of the squad, it is not currying favor with the public. For a nation as football proud as Brazil, who are five-time world champions, news of the swap has been seen as taking a huge step backwards in the country’s playing preparations for the 2014 World Cup.
As hosts, Brazil do not have to qualify for the tournament and therefore will not play any competitive football before the Confederations Cup in 2013. Friendlies against the top sides on the planet were seen as the next best thing to competitive fixtures, something the team is now being deprived.
Adding to the dismay of the actions by the CBF, Teixeira has gone back on a statement he made after Brazil’s defeat by Germany last week. “I prefer the reality, even if it is tougher. The illusion of victories without consistency can translate into greater losses in the future,” he said.
Still, Brazil will play two friendlies against their biggest rivals Argentina on September 14th and 28th. However, only players playing in Brazil and Argentina will be at the disposal of the two countries. The national team should also meet Mexico, Switzerland and England before the end of the calendar year.
Meanwhile, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is fiercely continuing her World Cup agenda. She guaranteed in Fortlaeza last week that all airports and stadiums would be ready by December 2013, in preparation for the big kick-off on June 13, 2014.
President Rousseff added that the government would be taking measures to ensure that all programs were finished on schedule and that Brazil would put on “the best World Cup.”