Brazil out to kick-start revolution
"Obviously there's a lot of pressure on Brazilian players, and on everyone who works in football," said Carlos Amadeu, the coach of the Auriverdes side that get their FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 challenge underway this Saturday, 17 October, against Korea Republic in Coquimbo. "What's happened to the professionals in the senior side has also affected the youth teams," he added.
"What's happened" is a clear reference to the catastrophic 2014 FIFA World Cup™ collapse on home soil, where Brazil were infamously steamrollered 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals. However, that is not the whole story. The Seleção's previous two global campaigns, in 2006 and 2010, ended in quarter-final eliminations, the same stage at which the Brazilians were dumped out of the 2015 Copa America, also in Chile. On top of that, they have made a lacklustre start on the road to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
It cannot even be said that Brazil have flattered to deceive. As admitted by Amadeu, in recent years the country have rarely performed with the pizzazz expected of the home of jogo bonito. "For a while Brazilian coaches focused on strong players with a physical game. That was a consequence of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, where Brazil played beautiful football but didn't win the title. The repercussions of that proved damaging to us. Brazil are currently trying to rediscover the old magic, but the world has changed. Nowadays it has to be part of a system; you can't just rely on individual talent to express itself, at the team's expense," argued the former Vitoria assistant coach.
Education and ambition The decision to appoint Amadeu in May in place of Caio Zanardi, who had led the team to continental glory, was part of an ongoing root-and-branch overhaul of the youth set-up being carried out by the Brazilian Football Association (CBF)."What the association have been striving to do since the defeat by Germany is to revive Brazil's style and attacking approach," said the coach, before pledging, "That's what we're going to try to put into practice here during this World Cup".
Amadeu is well aware that the onus is on him to help rekindle Brazilian football's spark by going back to its roots, and that education is the cornerstone of this mission. "I tell the players that they should look to become better people every day," he responded when asked about the philosophy he is seeking to instil. "They have to be good sons, good brothers and later good fathers. If they lead their lives the right way, they will carry that over to the pitch and they will be good athletes. What they learn in life will stand them in good stead in sport."
The Auriverdes are three-time world champions at U-17 level, but the last of those crowns came back in 2003. Ending this mini-drought would be an encouraging sign that Amadeu is on the right track, while providing some comfort to the fans in the light of recent disappointments. This is his take on that possibility: "Right now my priority is to play attacking football in the true Brazilian style, as well as to win, because our culture is also about targeting first place."
However, Amadeu will certainly not be sacrificing his deep-rooted vision in pursuit of instant success: "If I had to choose, I'd prefer to play beautiful football that serves as an inspiration. I know I'll be criticised back in Brazil if we don't win the World Cup here, but I'd rather that than win by playing in a way that's not in keeping with what we're looking for, and which doesn't allow my players to develop and reach the highest level - something that obviously won't get talked about at this moment in time. I'm thinking about the long term."