2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

The Fabulous comes of age

Luis Fabiano had always been a player of immense promise. His goal-laden, three-year spell at Sao Paulo between 2001 and 2004 certainly hinted at a bright future for both club and country.

Until this last year, however, his genius had merely flickered over in Europe and, according to a circle of detractors, his career was destined to end in unfulfilment. O Fabuloso (The Fabulous) has answered those critics emphatically.

The Sevilla striker currently sits atop of the scoring charts in the Spanish La Liga and, last night, with Brazil trailing Uruguay in the Morumbi stadium he previously illuminated, Luis Fabiano netted twice to propel the Seleção to a much-needed 2-1 win in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier.

Perfect return
In fact, Luis Fabiano was only promoted into Brazil's squad for the recent matches against Peru and Uruguay when an injury forced Afonso Alves out of the party. Even then, the latter of the two fixtures left him animated. "It's one of the dreams of my life to return to the Morumbi in the Seleção jersey. I think it will be a magic moment."

And after a substitute's appearance - his first in the famous yellow jersey since the Copa America 2004 final - the Campinas-born attacker realised this dream after Dunga unexpectedly included him in the starting line-up at Vagner Love's expense.

Luis Fabiano could not have written the script that followed much better. Brazil were 1-0 down and had their backs against the wall when he produced a 44th-minute leveller. Then, with goalkeeper Julio Cesar continuing to underline his status as his country's No1, the former Tricolor Paulista idol added the winner midway through the second half. His pair of strikes may not have been a beautiful as some of the 118 he posted in 160 games for Sao Paulo, but they were just as appreciated by his adoring followers.

"I feel at home here - the supporters are great," Luis Fabiano enthused. "I was very happy with my time at Sao Paulo. Thank God I returned to the Seleção today. I tried to make the most of the opportunity. I think I did a good job. Uruguay are a very difficult team to play against and it was very difficult to find space, but I managed to score the goals and help the Seleção win."

His team-mate Gilberto Silva was highly impressed: "Luis Fabiano was central to our victory," he said. "His [first] goal arrived at the right moment because we weren't playing well." Right-wingback Maicon was in agreement: "He's a lethal finisher and tonight he was inspirational."

2010 aspiration
The three points took Brazil on to eight points, two adrift of South American Zone leaders Paraguay and only one short of and arch-rivals Argentina in the battle for one of the confederation's four automatic tickets to South Africa. Luis Fabiano's mission is now to cement his place in the squad - and especially the starting XI - before the sport's showpiece event.

His performance against Uruguay has helped his cause. "Every player who comes in and plays well is automatically in mind for the next selections," explained Dunga. "I needed a powerful player. He came here in fine form in Spain and looked confident in training, so I decided to start him.

"He's different from Vagner (Love), he's stronger and leads the line very well. He played a good game. Football is about the moment and he came in and took his chance," concluded the Brazil coach.

"I'm in the best phase in my career," said Luis Fabiano, who failed to impress during spells at Rennes in France and Portuguese heavyweights FC Porto before moving to Andalusia. "Things didn't go well for me at Porto and my first year at Sevilla was one of adaptation. It kept me away from the national team.

"Now I'm very hungry to cement my place in the Seleção. It's my dream to play in the World Cup and I will continue to work hard towards this."

For over two decades, three outstanding front-runners - namely Careca, Romario and Ronaldo - spearheaded Brazil's attack. Since the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, however, Dunga has been deliberating over who to charge with carrying the side's No9 shirt. Luis Fabiano has staked his claim.

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