Gabriel Brazao, the unsung hero in Brazilian ranks

Brazao has been spectacular with his acrobatic saves and anticipation in this tournament, a trait normally not associated with goalkeepers from Brazil when they are under pressure.

Brazil goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao makes a collection in the match against North Korea.   -  H. Vibhu

He has been silent force behind Brazil’s entry into the second round of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The trident of Paulinho, Lincoln and Alan may have torn the rival defence to shreds and midfielders Marcos Antonio and Victor Bobsin may have orchestrated the moves but it was goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao’s sangfroid which contributed immensely to Brazil’s win.

Brazao has been spectacular with his acrobatic saves and anticipation in this tournament. A trait normally not associated with goalkeepers from Brazil when they are under pressure. It is true he was beaten early when Spain drew the first blood in the marquee Group D clash on Saturday. But Brazil's subsequent performance in the tournament makes it feel as if the goal — he let in which was actually an own goal by Wesley — was an aberration.

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Brazao has kept his nerve when his team’s defence was in shambles and pulled out incredible saves both against Spain and North Korea. When Spain pressed hard in the second half it was Brazao who came to his team’s rescue. Spanish captain Abel Ruiz, the next star in waiting, pounced on to a loose ball inside the Brazilian box and unleashed a left-footer but it thudded striaght into Brazao’s — who had narrowed the angle — gloves. Serigo Gomez and Jose Lara would have fancied their chances when they got into goal-scoring positions but Brazao thought otherwise to deny both the Spaniards with smart saves

Brazil's neat work under the bar was acknowledged by Brazilian coach Carlos Amadeu."Our goalkeeper Gabriel was spectacular today. He played a key role in the win with his smart saves,’’ he said at the post match conference.

Santiago Denia, the Spanish coach said Brazao made the difference between victory and defeat for his side."He (Gabriel Brazao) was outstanding under the bar against us. He is a good keeper. He has potential to play for the senior Brazilian side and to play for top professional clubs in the world,’’ said Santiago. Coming from a man who is stingy in praise, Brazao certainly has mad e an impression in the tournament

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The North Koreans throttled the Brazilians in the first half with their defensive stategry. But after conceding two goals, Koreans attacked showing how fluent they are when they played openly. The Korean aggression had the Brazilian defence in duress. The Koreans sneaked in but Brazao as the last line of defence was impregnebale. His performance again came in for praise from Amadeu. "I wanted the players to be alert. Brazao was again good at stopping the Koreans,’’ he said.

It is a tough life for a Brazilian goalkeeper as he is resigned to be the eternal unsung hero of the team. The reed like Gabriel Brazao impressed the scouts at Cruzeiro with his height at the trails. A first choice keeper for Amadeu in the Junior squad, Brazao has well and truly arrived in this World Cup.

In a country not known to produce great goalkeepers — apart from Claudio Taffarel the current goalkeeping coach of the national team — Brazao may well be the next star goalkeeper in making.

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