Brazil’s success in future FIFA age-group competitions in U-17 and U-20 levels will depend on commitment from young talents emulating Vinicius Junior in making himself available for the U-17 World Cup, despite club commitments.
The 16-year-old Flamengo forward, who is set to join his teammates here on Saturday after a home league game against Cruizero, feels proud to represent his nation, according to head coach Carlos Amadeu. The Brazil side is set to take on New Zealand in a practise match at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday.
The latter also pointed out that Brazilian clubs are losing talent as young as 16 or 17, to glamour clubs in Spain, France and England. Amadeu also agreed that national coaches in future will need to work with foreign-trained players who will be available for a limited time with the national squad due to club exertions.
Frontline striker Vinicius, who is contracted to join Real Madrid, is currently on loan at Flamengo and will only be eligible to play for the Los Blancos on turning 18. His future national commitments will depend on release by the Spanish club.
Q: How do you get a player in demand like Vinicius Junior to be ready for a World Cup challenge, despite distractions of a contract with a club elsewhere. How do you maintain focus within the squad?
A: First of all, understand the context due to which Vinicius is in Brazil. He has been our main player since 15 and (has) caught attention all over the world. There were distraction about this transfer (loaned by Flamengo to Real Madrid). He asked us to include him in this competition and told us that he was proud to serve his country. It is important for us when a player like him wants to be here for us. These guys are playing together since 2015, so will not be a problem to have him join later.
Brazilian clubs have struggle to dominate like they used to earlier. Do the best players continue to remain stars?
We always had great teams like Santos, Botafago, Flamengo, Sao Paolo, producing greats like Pele, Garrincha, Zico, etc. With, globalisation, our players started to go out early in their careers. (Previously) From 26 to 27 years old, now they are leaving Brazil at 16 or 17 years to play for big clubs from Spain, England, France. As a result, teams back home lose talent, who are used to being world stars.
With youngsters leaving at 16 or 17, will it be easier for future U-17 coaches like you to deal with smarter players after experience outside? Or will it be difficult to make them change their ways to suit your thinking?
We have the positive and the difficult situations here. Being together to train as a team is the difficult situation. When a young player is in Real Madrid or Barcelona, they don’t allow us to use the players out of FIFA (international breaks) days. The other side is due to the experience in other countries, another culture and another school of football, different styles of training, it helps in their development and in their career. We don’t have to look at this (situation) negatively, only understand it and use it for the national team, because that is reality.
Insights on Paraguay and Colombia squads, qualifying from South American U-17 Championships for the World Cup here? Colombia is in the group featuring India. Paraguay play in Mumbai...
Paraguay is a strong team, working together for quite some time. Individual skills is not their priority, but are collectively strong. We could not beat them, the only side to force two draws in our qualification. Colombia is high on technique, well trained and dominate via free-kicks. Chile is another South American qualifier here, (who) were really strong at home (2015 U-17 WC) and need to show finesse here in India as well.
Brazilian teams are known for goal-scoring, even the U-17. The team conceded just three goals in the South American qualifier, can you explain about the defence aspect.
Equality in the team is the first thing we consider. We are not looking to score many goals and not looking to concede many goals too. Our defence system starts with the first forward, whether Vinicus, Paulino or anyone in that position. It is easier for teammates at the back because defence starts far ahead in the field. We have quality goalkeepers and defenders, you can see that in our stars with major clubs around the world.
On feelings back home due to difficulty in winning the U-17 World Cup of late? (previous U-17 title won in 2003)
In Brazil, everybody is looking for titles every time (we take part). Since we are working with young players for development, our objective is to get them to our professional team. If we can do that (by)winning competitions, then it will be really positive for us.
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