When Dunga, the then Brazilian coach prepared his 23-men squad in 2010, the list contained no Ronaldinho or Ronaldo. It later proved suicidal. Brazil didn’t look so promising from the initial stages in South Africa, much similar to the current world cup and exited in the quarter-finals against the Dutch. Dunga had to pay the price for his early mistake which also saw him being dismissed by the Brazilian football association.
Scolari had a similar situation when he managed Brazil in 2002. A controversial act was to drop the then veteran striker Romario, causing distress among the fans. But what happened after that overshadowed this incident. Brazil went into the tournament in unfancied victories but clinched the World cup by the stellar performance from ‘The-Phenomenon’. They thrashed Germany with 2 goals to nil.
This time Brazil had an upper hand by playing in their own soil. Scolari’s return as a manager increased the anticipation to re-create the history of the glorious 2002 world cup. It’s a young squad with passion and patriotism. They play home. Neymar, the celebrated hero lived up to the expectation and was able to bring life to the hopes of the millions. Silva stood as a warrior and commander of field. Things were going right until that moment. Neymar’s injury blow and Thiago Silva’s suspension left Brazil stranded in the field. The Germans marched as a threat to Brazilian dreams and so it happened. All the 7 goals scored on that night were absolutely ordinary. Germans were all in their mid and early twenties guarded by Bastian and Philipp with Klose up front ! Joachim is a wise manager. Ambitious.
As a manager you influence the players until kick-off. Once the referee blows the whistle, the ship is off the harbor. It needs a capable leader in the pitch to drive things. What Brazil lacked was a leader to set things right.
I’m trying to imagine what would have happened if Kaka and Ronaldinho were included in the squad.
Let me talk about other nations that included their veteran footballers of age above 30 in their squad.
1. Pirol, 34, was a magician for Italy and it was omnipresent in his area of expertise and is a threat at free-kicks. His presence offered smoothness in the Italian game, despite their early exit.
2. Forlan, 35, still was used as a substitution at the strike in Suarez’s absence. Lest we forgot, he drove Uruguay to the top fight in last world cup.
3. Kuyt, 33, had his manager’s trust and the guts to play off-position as a right-back in their win against Costa Rica. He did show the difference.
4. Rafael Marquez, 35, wore the captain’s arm-band for Mexico for four world cups and showed strength and support from the defense.
5. Klose, 36, is the oldest player in my list of veterans. He did wonders breaking the record of most goals scored in the world cup final, 16 !
Klose faded with the pace that is required for the strike force, but his instincts for scoring was still evident in the last night. It would have been perfect moment with his famous acrobatic celebration.
The cameraman focused on the Brazilian idol, the phenomenon sitting in a broadcasting room in the stadium, looking dejected. How spectacular it would be for the legends to play and win for the crowd. This doesn’t prove the fact that old players will win the game, but they will give their best !
The players that were dropped off the squad.
1. Kaka, 32. It was a sad moment when Kaka arrived with his kid for the opening match. He deserved a spot to fill the void in the Brazilian midfield.
2. Ashley cole for England 33. England being my favorites and Baines proving the positives wrong, Ashley cole’s absence was felt.
3. Lampard, 36. He did play an important role in the 2010 world cup. On contrary, Gerrard was barely seen on the pitch. Barry 33, would have done too.
4. Ronaldinho, 34. He’s still got that flare and an obvious game-changer. I’d have had him in the squad. He is divine !
All I say is these players possess the level of experience and greater sense of game at bigger stages.
The point is simple. Keep the old-horses running and let them lead the colts.
Picture courtesy : Fifa.com