Pele backs Ney­mar for World Cup re­demp­tion

Tehran Times - - WORLD SPORTS -

For­mer Brazil star Pele has backed Ney­mar to in­spire the team to re­demp­tion at the 2018 World Cup fi­nals.

The Paris Saint-Ger­main for­ward was in­jured in the quar­ter-fi­nal win over Colom­bia on home soil four years ago and there­fore missed the 7-1 de­struc­tion at the hands of Ger­many in the last four.

Tite’s side have been tipped to make amends at this year’s tour­na­ment in Rus­sia, though, af­ter they breezed through qual­i­fy­ing to top the South Amer­i­can sec­tion with 12 wins and one de­feat from 18 matches.

And Pele, a three-time win­ner of the World Cup, hopes Ney­mar takes ad­van­tage of “a great op­por­tu­nity” for in­ter­na­tional glory.

“He al­ready has a sec­ond chance be­cause, un­for­tu­nately, what hap­pened in Brazil – dis­as­ter,” Pele, speak­ing cour­tesy of Hublot, told Om­nis­port.

“The last World Cup in Brazil, he got the in­jury, and Brazil lost. I think this is a great, great op­por­tu­nity for him to re­cover. I think he’s a good player. Let’s see if he can help Brazil [win] this World Cup.”

Pele be­lieves Brazil boast the best col­lec­tion of in­di­vid­ual tal­ents in the world and now hopes Tite can fit them into a strong sys­tem in time for their first group game against Switzer­land on June 17.

“Ev­ery­body knows Brazil have the best in­di­vid­ual play­ers in Europe,” he said. “I think our coach, Tite, has had lit­tle time to set up the team. We have three months to set up the team. Tite is a very good coach, but he doesn’t yet have the team work­ing to­gether. This will be a short time for them.

“But in­di­vid­ual play­ers, no doubt Brazil has a team to get to the fi­nal of the World Cup.”

The 77-year-old sus­pects there could be some sur­prises in store, though, given the shock of Italy’s fail­ure to qual­ify for the tour­na­ment.

“Al­ways we se­lect the big­gest names [as favourites], like Ar­gentina, Italy, Eng­land, Spain,” he said. “But foot­ball is a box of sur­prises and it’s dif­fi­cult to say. This World Cup, the teams are very even. You wouldn’t have one big team.

“Then you have some sur­prises. Italy is out. For foot­ball, it’s not good. Then you have two or three great teams who didn’t qual­ify. As I men­tioned, foot­ball is al­ways a box of sur­prises.”

This year marks the 60th an­niver­sary of Pele’s first World Cup tri­umph and the for­mer San­tos for­ward still re­mem­bers the emo­tion of be­ing called up to the squad as a 17-year-old.

“I played four World Cups. The first one al­ways is a lit­tle spe­cial, be­cause I didn’t ex­pect it, be­cause I was 17 years old,” he added.

“My fa­ther was a foot­ball player too and when my fa­ther came to my house af­ter work, he said ‘lis­ten, you have been se­lected for the na­tional team of Brazil’. I said ‘Daddy, don’t make a joke’. He said ‘no, no, no, it’s not a joke, it’s true’. I started to cry, be­cause it was a big sur­prise to me.”

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