Re­turns

> Resur­gent Brazil al­most ready for Rus­sia and the beau­ti­ful game, says coach Tite

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

BRAZIL’S SIX-GAME win­ning streak has re­ju­ve­nated the five times world cham­pi­ons and put them on the verge of reach­ing the 2018 fi­nals in Rus­sia with new coach Tite aim­ing to build on form that even he has found sur­pris­ing.

“An ex­pres­sion that sums it up well is turn­ing the page,” Tite said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Reuters at his of­fice in Rio de Janeiro yes­ter­day.

“We are build­ing a new mo­ment for the na­tional team. It’s a mo­ment in which we are qual­i­fy­ing, con­sol­i­dat­ing the team, with a foot­ball that is ef­fi­cient and pretty and that needs to be con­sol­i­dated.

“We’re well on our way to qual­i­fi­ca­tion, there’s not far to go,” Tite said, at the end of the best se­quence of qual­i­fy­ing re­sults since Pele led Brazil to the 1970 fi­nals in Mex­ico.

“We can’t let down our guard. The chance is there in the next game.”

Brazil visit Uruguay in March and no one would bet against them be­com­ing the first South Amer­i­can side to qual­ify for Rus­sia with an op­por­tu­nity to make up for the dis­as­trous end to their home World Cup in 2014 when they crashed out 7-1 to Ger­many in the semi-fi­nals.

Brazil are the only coun­try to have played at every World Cup but when Tite took over that streak looked in jeop­ardy as they lan­guished in sixth place in the South Amer­i­can qual­i­fy­ing ta­ble, with the top four go­ing through au­to­mat­i­cally and the fifth-placed side en­ter­ing a play­off.

How­ever, he has turned the team’s for­tunes around since re­plac­ing Dunga in June and said his first six games – with 17 goals scored and one con­ceded – were eas­ier than he ex­pected. They top the qual­i­fy­ing group with 27 points from 12 games.

“I thought it would be more com­pli­cated, with less (pos­i­tive) re­sults... I didn’t imag­ine that we’d have these num­bers and, even bet­ter than the num­bers, such form. We have kept up a high stan­dard of per­for­mance. That’s sig­nif­i­cant,” said Tite.

Tite is not known for his at­tack­ing foot­ball or as be­ing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary tac­ti­cian, but he is an ex­cel­lent man man­ager and peer­less at or­gan­is­ing a team that is re­silient at the back and ca­pa­ble up front.

He has trans­formed a strug­gling side that was crit­i­cised for re­ly­ing too heav­ily on Ney­mar, with Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Je­sus both tak­ing on big­ger roles. – Reuters

Brazil coach Tite

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