Q & A: Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari
Posted: Tuesday April 23, 2002 2:49 PM
do you think of the draw?
The Brazilian media have written it off as very easy, but we don't
see it that way. We have respect for the teams we are going to face.
We know that in football today -- and there are examples everywhere
-- nobody wins before the game has started and nobody wins on the
basis of the names in the team. They win if they produce the goods
on the field. Turkey have improved in the past seven or eight years,
and their clubs have been very successful in Europe. They are very
fast, physically strong and their movement is good. Costa Rica play
similar football to Brazil, they have a good touch, close passing
and good technique. Nobody gets a free place at the World Cup.
are your key players?
The most important thing is to have a unified group. The national
team should be like a family. Everybody has to get on with everybody
else and be prepared to save everyone else's skin. As an example,
I once played in a marvelous team, Caxias. Our group was spectacular,
we played an excellent championship, then they brought in three
very good players. But one took the place of a player we liked a
lot. The central defender who played alongside me told me: "I'm
not going to cover for him. I don't like him. He goes up to join
the attack and doesn't come back; I'm not doing his work for him."
We lost the next game 5-1. It is handy for a football team to have
a leader and today, for example, we have Emerson, who is a person
everyone listens to and who is an example off the field, so we try
to give him more responsibilities.
will win the World Cup?
France and Argentina are ahead of the rest, but I have a lot of
belief in Brazil. I have absolute confidence that we will get to
the last four, and the supporters can demand explanations if we
will be the surprises?
Uruguay will show their traditional determination, which overcomes
a lot of other weaknesses. Ecuador will be a surprise; they have
good players who have speed and will prove that Ecuador are no longer
the poor relations. But Portugal are the most likely to spring a
surprise. This is their best team since 1966, and from what I saw
in the qualifiers, they will go far.
the conditions affect you?
We will travel to South Korea in stages, stopping in Spain to play
a friendly against a Catalan XI and then in Malaysia for a few days
to adapt to the time difference. It's important to limit the use
of cellular phones by the players. When it's midday in Brazil, it's
midnight in South Korea, and we don't want players being woken up
in the middle of the night and then being dead on their feet at
American players have long had a reputation for gamesmanship, but
nowadays European players are probably worse and seem to be better
at getting away with it. Do
you find this a problem?
Everybody does it, but the media talk much more about the South
Americans. European referees clamp down more on South American players
than they do on European players. When it happens in Europe, the
opponent reacts with disgust as if it were something out of this
world, as if it were unethical. Here, the South American player
sees it as a merit, as cunning, they like to think they pulled a
fast one on the opponent and the referee. But when we play outside
South America we pay the price.
Brazilians do not just want their team to win. They want Brazil
to play with gusto. Is it possible to do both?
You play with joy when you get the right result. How can you play
with joy if you lose? Imagine if we go to the World Cup and play
three wonderful games, all out of this world -- and we don't qualify.
What's the point in that? We have to ally the two things but always
looking for the objective. If we have to play ugly to reach the
objective, we will play ugly. What's the point of a Cup? To be champions.
you affected by the heavy criticism early on in your tenure, especially
after the defeats by Honduras and Bolivia?
I felt the pressure and difficulties in adapting because I have
always been a club coach and when I got to the national team it
was different. You have to know a few things, it takes three months
to get to know the players. Then the snowball starts and there are
always people that like one player or the other, there are always
interests here and there. I have sons aged 17 and 10, and, of course,
at school, there's always a joke here, a joke there, more comments
in the street, etc. At one point, it got to them a bit -- the mickey-taking
on television -- they were upset and they asked me if it was worth
it. In time, and as I began getting the taste for the selecao, I
told them it was. Now, I'm extremely happy to be in charge of the
Alberto Parreira won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994 but was vilified
constantly by the critics and even jeered by Brazilian fans at the
Final. How do you explain that?
It amazes me. Parreira should be revered because he demonstrated
the meaning of having belief in your work. Everybody was against
him but he said he would reach his objective and he did. He also
made the players believe it, and that was to his great credit. In
1982, we had a spectacular team but, at the moment when we could
have sat back and administered a situation (needing a draw against
Italy), we kept attacking and playing pretty football. For that
reason,1982 didn't go down in history as Brazil's Cup. Who went
down in history? Parreira in '94.
the problems involving the Brazilian federation (CBF) and its president,
Ricardo Teixeira, affected you and the team?
The CBF has given me the conditions I needed. The president has
always told me we will go to the Cup together. If he gives me his
word, why will I doubt it?