Unique fans can drive

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

BRAZIL have lifted the most fa­mous tro­phy in foot­ball on five dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions, and for­mer player Ri­valdo be­lieves that the unique pres­sure the coun­try’s fans place on their star play­ers will drive the squad on in Rus­sia.

Since their first ti­tle in 1950, Brazil are cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the sec­ond­longest wait to lift the World Cup. Only the gap be­tween the 1970 and 1994 tri­umphs is longer than the 16 years since Ri­valdo, Ronaldo, Cafu et al claimed the ti­tle in Yoko­hama.

It might not seem like the most ar­du­ous ex­pe­ri­ence for Brazil­ian sup­port­ers, who still had three Con­fed­er­a­tions Cups, a brace of Copa Amer­i­cas and Olympic gold in Rio to toast.

But Ri­valdo, a star of the run­ner­sup to France in 1998 and the winners four years later, is acutely aware that sec­ond won’t cut it in Rus­sia.

“It’s dif­fi­cult be­cause of the pres­sure from the fans,” he said.

“It has turned into a tra­di­tion be­cause Brazil are ex­pected to win and the play­ers have to deal with that pres­sure.

“But sometimes a bit of pres­sure can mo­ti­vate the play­ers. Other coun­tries do not have the same level of pres­sure. The pres­sure is good be­cause it is part of be­ing a player in cer­tain coun­tries foot­ball is a part of their cul­ture.

“The pres­sure is dif­fi­cult but that’s the rea­son why Brazil have won the World Cup five times.”

How­ever, that pres­sure brings no guar­an­tees.

“(Brazil) have al­ways been strong and have al­ways qual­i­fied for the World Cup,” Ri­valdo said.

“We are al­ways the favourites but I don’t know if we are this one. I hope they per­form well and get to the very end and win the tro­phy.”

The de­mands placed on the na­tional team are only height­ened by the ex­pe­ri­ence of the 2014 World C u p , wh e n G e r ma n y hu­mil­i­ated the host na­tion in a 7-1 drub­bing that will for­ever scar the na­tion.

Though

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