Scolari’s Redemption

by Bagga Wilks

One swallow does not make a summer. Brazil’s 3-0 victory over France in a friendly played at home breaks the cycle of poor performances since Scolari replaced Mano Menezes as the coach of the Brazilian national team. The victory against France gives Scolari a temporary reprieve but the real test of the Brazilian national squad’s capabilities will come at the Confederation Cup that begins June 15 and runs until June 30.

Brazil is the host country for the World Cup in 2014 and the national aspiration is to return Brazilian football to its glory days by winning its sixth lien on the World Cup.

Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002. That team with Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Cafu and Roberto Carlos trounced the rest of the world. Since 2002, the Brazilian national team has stumbled and in the present FIFA ranking is at the country’s lowest, placed at 22.

In 2006, France with the aging Zidane, Henry and Patrick Veira knocked out Brazil in the semi-final and in 2010 in South Africa, Holland eliminated Brazil in the quarter finals. Brazil’s football has been struggling to rebound. Mano Menezes replaced Dunga after the 2010 World Cup but under his managerial watch, Brazil was unimpressive against the top tier teams in the world. Scolari, who was the coach in 2002, has been brought back to capture old glory. His beginning was quite shaky. Brazil lost to England at Wembley; drew with Italy and Russia; beat Bolivia and drew with Chile. Things were looking quite chilly for the Scolari epoch.

The victory against a lackluster French team provides the Brazilian national team with some confidence. Previous matches, the defense seemed porous. Against France, they were able to shut the door for 90 minutes. Particularly in the second half, Scolari’s youthful squad played with greater fluidity and deserved the 3-0 victory.

Neymar is still struggling to recapture his magic but Oscar, Paulinho, Lucas Moura and Luiz Gustavo are emerging as the new nucleus. Brazil’s fans are contentious of mediocrity. Brazil will hear the boos unless they can show they are in the same class as the previous great World Cup teams. Brazil has emerged in a multi-polar world and is recognized as a great power at the same time when their recognition as a great soccer power has declined. The Confederation Cup will give us some sense if the new generation of stars can return Brazilian soccer to recapture the Samba magic.