Fabi­ano courts con­tro­ver­sey with his de­lib­er­ate hand­balls

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL - DUN­CAN WHITE

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.

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