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Doha: Brazil coach Tite has played down pressure around the five-time champions ahead of their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group G clash against Serbia at the Lusail Stadium today.
Heading to Qatar, Brazil has been tipped as the overwhelming favourite for the tournament, but Tite's side has not fared well in previous tournaments since 2002.
Three quarter-final appearances (2006, 2010 and 2018) and a famous meltdown in 2014 on their home ground means the Samba Boys are under pressure to deliver to the football-crazed fans back home.
“We have some of the players that call the biggest media attention in the world, so we take it naturally; it's our dream winning a World Cup,” Tite told reporters yesterday.
“Pressure is inevitable; the pressure is natural. Brazil has the biggest history in football, and with that legacy always comes the pressure,” the 61-year-old added.
The South Americans are seeking a record-extending sixth title, with their last win also in Asia in 2002 at the Korea –Japan World Cup. Tite stressed he could only be accountable for the previous four years, which has been his only complete World Cup cycle since their quarter-final loss against Belgium in Russia in 2018.
“In Russia, we only had two years to fix the team, and I came to the rescue. Now is different because I had the opportunity to build the team how I wanted to,” he said, adding,“That's why my feeling today is completely different than four years ago. I'm not that nervous because all the work has been done.”
Tite, who has announced he'll retire from coaching the national team after the World Cup, has also been plagued with questions about his starting 11.
Blessed with several attacking talents, the veteran coach is faced with a decision as to how to work his equally talented midfield to bring the best out of Neymar, Vinicius Jr, Lucas Paqueta, Rodrygo Goes, Richarlison, Raphinha and Gabriel Jesus.
“We have three models, and we will adapt accordingly regarding each opponent we face. All the players know that and are aware,” Tite said of his choices ahead of the match.
“As a coach, I need to have the capacity to potentialize the best characteristics of each player. Vinicius is one player who has made their cases playing at the highest level with their clubs. Now is my job to fit them in my scheme.”
Serbia's coach Dragan Stojkovic leads a training session of his team at Al Arabi SC in Doha yesterday. AFP
Serbia's golden generation
On the other hand, Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic insisted his 'golden generation' are not afraid of any team and will not be awed by famous Brazil.
The Serbians famously topped their qualifying group for Qatar 2022 ahead of Portugal, and most of the squad members were part of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup winning squad from 2015.
“Brazil is a great team. For me, it's a golden generation at the moment, and we expect a difficult game, but we must focus on our football and try to be good opponents,” Stojkovic said yesterday.
“We are afraid of nobody in the world, not even Brazil. We don't need to be afraid,” the 57-year-old stressed.
Stojkovic, who was appointed in March last year, also disclosed that Filip Kostic still has a huge question mark on his fitness, and it is not yet clear if he'll return from an injury sustained while playing for Juventus. However, in-from striker Alexander Mitrovic looks set to be fit from an ankle injury.
“Mitrovic in the past four or five days has been working with the team, and the good news is that he feels no pain in the area where he had the injury,” Stojkovic added.
When: Today at 1:00pm
Where: Al Janoub Stadium (Capacity: 40,000)
- Between them the two sides have played at 19 World Cup finals, with Switzerland making their debut in the 1934 tournament in Italy and Cameroon in 1982 in Spain.
- The high point for both teams has been making it to the quarter-finals, which Switzerland did in 1934, 1938 and 1958, while Cameroon's best performance came in 1990.
- Cameroon come into the game on the back of one win, one draw and three losses in their last five games, while Switzerland have won three and lost two.
- Cameroon's last victory in a World Cup group game came against Qatar's neighbours from Saudi Arabia, who they beat 1-0 on June 6, 2002 in Saitama, Japan. They lost all their group games at the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.
- Switzerland have progressed from the group stage in three of their last four tournaments (2006, 2014 and 2018), missing out in 2010.
This is the first time the two sides have met.