By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil coach Dunga has left his post after the nation’s disappointing quarter final exit at the hands of the Netherlands. The move will not surprise or disappoint most Cariocas, who never warmed to the cautiously-minded and tactically-conservative treinador as Dunga attempted to mold a team in his own image, basing the side’s success more on defensive qualities rather than the vast attacking and creative options at his disposal.
“With the elimination of Brazil from the World Cup in South Africa, the CBF announces the dismissal of the technical commission of the Brazilian team,” the national Football Confederation declared.
Rio legend Adriano, who recently left Flamengo for Italian side AS Roma, failed to make Dunga’s final squad for South Africa, while other Rio favorites Vagner Love and Fred also controversially missed out, along with several younger players widely tipped for selection, leaving a squad reliant on players at European clubs to the chagrin of most supporters.
Former Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari, who won the World Cup with them in 2002, is the favorite to replace the outgoing Dunga, although Corinthians’ Mano Menezes and former AC Milan boss Leonardo have also been tipped as potential successors. Felipão’s 2002 side left the world in awe with an attacking trio of Ronaldo Fenômeno, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho Gaúcho, and fans are crying out for a return to beautiful football after four years.
However, it has not all been bad under the former national team captain. Before falling to Holland yesterday, the seleção had gone ten games unbeaten, their last defeat coming in October 2009 against Bolivia in a meaningless World Cup qualifier after Brazil had already won top spot in the group.
Dunga must also be credited for crafting the formidable attacking partnership between Robinho and Luis Fabiano. Under him the strikers scored 43 goals, enormously improving their previously mediocre scoring records in national colors. Brazil also won the Copa America in 2007 with a comprehensive 3-0 victory in the final over arch rivals Argentina, and took the Confederations Cup in 2009. Yet the failure to land football’s greatest prize made the decision to remove Dunga’s staff straightforward.
In the aftermath of Friday’s defeat, Julio Cesar openly admitted to being at fault for Holland’s equalizing goal. “I came for a ball I was never going to reach”, the Inter Milan keeper told reporters. Rather than hide in the shadows, he bravely and emotionally fielded difficult questions moments after walking off the pitch.
Cesar also appeared before the cameras at Rio’s Galeão airport upon his arrival back home. Far from attacking him with threats and abuse as they had when hero-turned villain Felipe Melo stepped out, supporters rallied behind the him with cries of “Julio! Julio!”. The action clearly touched Cesar, who stopped briefly to thank them for their support before heading for his Rio home in tears alongside his mother.
Former Fluminense defender Thiago Silva also stopped to talk with the media, and when the 25 year-old was asked which player had been the most upset after the defeat to the Netherlands he immediately responded, “Without a doubt, Julio Cesar. No one could say anything to make him happy after the game. He wanted to be left alone.”