Fabiano courts controversey with his deliberate handballs
AS BRAZILIAN forwards go, Luis Fabiano has crept under the radar.
This is the tournament that will make his name, though. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Adriano and Kaka may be far better known in the global football community but if Brazil are to win the World Cup, it will be the focused effectiveness of Fabiano that is key.
The golden boot is his for the taking.
His strike-rate is phenomenal. Since signing for Sevilla in 2005 he has scored 90 goals in 194 appearances.
For Brazil he has scored 27 times in 40 caps. He’s metronomic.
In a tournament shy on orthodox poaching strikers he stands out.
The two goals he scored in Brazil’s 3-1 over Ivory Coast at Soccer City were typical of his predatory finishing.
The first, a perfectly timed run and powerfully-struck near post finish, was impressive and the second showed his absolute ruthlessness.
Siaka Tiene let the ball bounce and Fabiano was on to him, won the ball, flicked it over two challenges and brought the ball down before volleying into the net. The only problem was he handballed it. Twice.
Sven-Goran Eriksson was pithy in the aftermath.
“It’s difficult to cope with Fabiano but it’s even more difficult if he’s allowed to use his hands,” he said. “It was not once but twice he handled the ball.”
When the referee asked Fabiano if he had handled the ball he laughed. Unfortunately, so did the referee.
He was a touch more sheepish after the game. But only a touch.
“It’s true, it seemed the ball hit my hand and the second time it hit my shoulder,” he said. “But there was no voluntary hand-ball and it was a legitimate goal. It was one of the most spectacular goals I have scored in my career.”
Controversy is never far away with Fabiano.
The irony of Kaka being shown a second yellow for being run into by Kader Keita is that he is probably the nicest player in the Brazil squad. Fabiano, however, enjoys a scrap.
When playing for Sao Paolo in Brazil, O Fabuloso got himself into repeated trouble for fighting (he even casually kicked a teammate in training).
The two most ludicrous incidents were his flying kick on a River Plate player in 2003 and his ar mswhirring cartoon fight with Diogo in 2007.
The punching is clearly no match for his goal-scoring. In 2008 he was sent off after he elbowed Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets and he is never far away from turning.
Not the most patient of players, you’d expect, but in terms of career he has had to be.
He turns 30 this year and for a long time it looked as if he would fail to deliver on his potential.
He failed in his first two attempts to play in Europe, first with Rennes then with Porto, but translated his goal-scoring heroics with Sao Paolo to La Liga with Sevilla.
With Brazil it has been an equally frustrating journey.
He made his debut seven years ago and was a starter as Brazil won the Copa America in 2004. His crash in form after leaving Brazil for Porto that summer meant he was left out of the Selecao for the next three years.
He has emerged as one of Dunga’s key players, however.
He had not scored in his previous five games but the Brazil coach said he “placed complete trust” in Fabiano.
It paid off against Ivory Coast. If he can maintain the form he has shown in the last three years in South Africa, he could be known as one of the World Cup’s great predators rather than for his flying kicks and fists. –The Telegraph
MATCH WINNER: Brazil’s Luis Fabiano shoots to score his second goal during the World Cup Group G soccer match against Ivory Coast at Soccer City.