The year 2011 didn’t follow Mano Menezes’s script. It began with his Brazil side losing to France, included a hugely disappointing Copa America campaign, and was deteriorated by a loss to Germany in August.

Thereafter, though, A Seleção found their feet and today’s 2-0 defeat of Egypt in Doha, in what was the five-time FIFA World Cup™ winners’ last appearance of the year, took them on to six wins and one draw from their last seven outings, during which time they have kept six clean sheets. It ensured their coach will enter 2012 in confident mood.

Menzes said: "My assessment is simple: in the first half [of the year] we experienced difficulties, but the second was much better. The final image is a positive one, because the team found its way in tactical terms and in the evolution of the game. We worked very well with the ball and with the repetition of good performances, you have more peace of mind.”

The 49-year-old, formerly an amateur defender, believes Brazil’s dominance of the game was down to their own quality rather than their opponents’ deficiencies.

“Egypt played like that because Brazil played much better,” he commented.

In the first half [of the year] we experienced difficulties, but the second was much better. The final image is a positive one.

Mano Menezes

Thiago Silva, who partnered David Luiz at the heart of the South Americans’ defence, concurred with Menezes’s judgement that 2011 was a year of two halves for Brazil. “We had a difficult start, but the ending turned out to be a little happier,” said the 27-year-old AC Milan man. “The feeling is that next year will begin very differently [from this one], because we’ve managed to put together a [good] series of results.”

Jonas works towards establishment
2011 also proved a year of two halves for Jonas. The 27-year-old striker was only afforded 15 minutes on his Brazil debut against Scotland in March and missed out of the Copa America.

However, Jonas was given brief run-outs against Costa Rica and Mexico last month, before beginning the 2-0 victory over Gabon on Thursday. And today, on his second start for Brazil, the former Gremio player netted the game’s only two goals in typical predatory fashion.

“Mano has shown that he likes my football, and it’s up to me to continue playing well for Valencia to be remembered in 2012,” Jonas said. “The Gabon game was my first start, I began a sequence against Egypt and I hope to maintain my place in the team beside Hulk, Neymar, [Leandro] Damiao, everybody.”