Brazil U-17 captain: ‘We can create two more Viniciuses’

Vitao da Silva Matos is not overly concerned about the absence of his star striker ahead of his team’s game against Spain U17s.

Vitao...“Vinicius would have helped us if he were here for sure, but we have many talented and quality players here as well.”

Vitao da Silva Matos is not new to pressure. The 17-year-old defender led the Brazilian side to victory at the 2017 U-17 South American Championship and will now once again captain the squad as it bids for a fourth U-17 World Cup title.

He admits there is pressure, given what is at stake, but claims he is immune to it. “I was the captain when we won the South American Championship, so it was good,” he said. “There is pressure for sure because we're playing for the Brazil national team. But I'm okay with it and right now, it's not a problem,” said the towering defender.

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A lot has been said about how much Vinicius Jr's absence could affect the team, but Vitao feels the team is just as capable without the former's striking prowess. “Vinicius would have helped us if he were here for sure, but we have many talented and quality players here as well,” he said. “If everybody gives it a 110 percent, we can make two more Viniciuses,” added the captain emphatically.

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So, did he talk to his team-mate after his omission? “Yes, we spoke with him after his omission. He is currently injured and we are sending him good vibes so that he can recover as soon as possible,” said Vitao. (Vinicius suffered an injury during Flamengo's match last week.)

Strong in defence

Vitao's prime task on Saturday will be to contain Spain's captain and star-striker Abel Ruiz, who is the leading top-scorer in Spanish U-17 history with 19 goals. The Brazilian seems quite confident of keeping the Spaniard quiet and has every reason to be, given that his side let in the least number of goals – all of three – at the South American Championship.

“Our system is such that an attack starts with our defenders and our defence starts with our forwards. This is our secret. Our forwards helped the during the South Asian Championship and that's why we didn't concede many goals,” he noted.

With the World Cup being a massive platform for these young footballers, Vitao will hope to lead his side's water-tight defence to glory and attract interest from a major international club or two.

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