Benjamin ready to fill Buru void
It was the most exacting of victories. Portugal had pulled to within a goal of Brazil in their Rio de Janeiro 2007 quarter-final, and they were pressing hard for an equaliser. That was until a knight in shining, canary-yellow armour emerged, scoring twice to seal a 10-7 victory.
That hero was Buru, the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Shoe winner at last November's FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, and the reigning FIFA World Player, who is unavailable for Brazil's Marseille 2008 semi-final against Portugal through suspension. "It's a huge loss. Buru is a complete player, the best in the world," admitted one of his team-mates.
It is, however, a surmountable loss if the hitherto performances of the afore-quoted player are anything to go on. Boasting explosive speed, unimaginable trickery and an awesome shot, Benjamin has rendered the Stade du Prado audiences agog with his breathtaking, infusive displays.
His hat-trick in Brazil's 7-1 win over Mexico in their final group game included one stunning free-kick from close to his own goal-line. In the same match he successfully performed a nutmeg, an elastic dribble, and beat an opponent courtesy of some hypersonic step-overs. This is beach soccer, yet Benjamin effortlessly performs moves that most players would only dream of executing on grass. And he employs them productively.
"He's in the form of his career," enthused Brazil coach Alexandre Soares after watching Benjamin help his side eliminate Russia in the last eight. "I was telling people long before we came here to watch out for him at the World Cup. ."
Aroused by the displays of Benjamin, among others, Soares believes his team can cope without their No11. "Buru is a great player so we never want to lose him, especially against such a talented team like Portugal," he said. "But Brazil are not just about one man. We have a full squad of excellent players, countless match-winners."
No Brazilian has assumed the role of match-winner to a greater extent than Benjamin in Marseille. "I'm really pleased with the way I've been playing," he told FIFA.com. I don't think about whether I'm in the best form of my career, I'm just pleased to be contributing to Brazil's success. It will be difficult without Buru against Portugal, but we all believe we will win because we have so many stars in this squad."