Chants of ‘Braaaziiil, Braaaaziiil’ reverberated across the Mumbai Football Arena located in the western suburbs of Mumbai as Brazil were locked in an intense battle with New Zealand in the first practice game ahead of the much-awaited FIFA U-17 World Cup next month.
And, the Samba Boys did not disappoint their loyal fans. Living up to their reputation, they not only displayed some dazzling football talent but also ensured a 2-1 win over the Kiwis.
Salcao striker Brenner struck twice in the second half to give Brazil an exciting victory, which is bound to give them a huge boost before the tournament begins. For New Zealand, Max Mata converted a penalty for the consolation goal.
Even as Brazilians were toying with their New Zealand counterparts, 15-year-old Jaden D’Sa, donning a No.10 Neymar jersey, was loving the sight of his favourite team play in the stadium that saw a decent turnout.
Jaden had bunked his Class X tuition classes to come and watch the boys in yellow and green jersey show their craft.
“Brazil is my favourite team, and that is why I am here. I don’t mind bunking my classes,” says Jaden.
The youngster was accompanied by his father Christopher, a former hockey player. The duo, like many others who came to watch, enjoyed each and every move that the Brazilians produced.
“Brazil is great to watch even if it’s a practice game. It’s a treat for the kids. Even the New Zealanders are good too,” says Christopher.
The stadium wasn’t full despite the free entry, but the noise the fans made inside the ground was enough for the Brazilians to get the feeling of a home game.
Not just kids, there were a few who bunked their offices as well. Like Cyrus Kinny, a first division footballer who is employed as an executive in a multinational company.
“After India, Brazil is my next favourite in this World Cup. People know what kind of a team Brazil is. They have produced top-class footballers and have put together some great performances over so many years. It’s the tradition that has pulled us to the ground. If not now, I may not have got a chance to watch them play because they will be playing their league games in Kochi,” says Kinny.
Brazil coach Carlos Amedeu said the team will ride on the support that Indian fans shower on it.
“We will try to have them on our side. There were fans who were wearing the yellow jerseys, which definitely helps us. In Goa, too, we got a similar kind of response when we were there last year,” he said.
Amedeu added that he was happy playing in Mumbai.
“The facilities and the pitch was good for us. It was a really good experience. Even the crowd supported us and we were feeling home,” the coach said.
Despite the victory, there were quite a few injury scares for Brazil when some of their players collided during the game. The coach, though, wasn’t too worried.
“I was not surprised (by the injuries). This is how Brazil play. The strong style and contact of play. We advised them against it, but it happens some time in football,” added Amedeu.
Following regulation time, the fans were treated with penalty shoot-outs, which Brazil won 5-4.
Sandhu wants India to cash in
New Delhi: India’s senior team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said the country needs to “make the most” of the opportunity to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The senior national team custodian thinks that India has to use it for the betterment of football. “It’s a great honour for us as a country and footballers and football lovers to have something like the World Cup happening in our nation,” he said. Gurpreet thinks it should also encourage the fans to turn up at the games. “I think the modernisation of the infrastructure will be a plus no doubt, but I hope that it also educates the Indian population about the game even more,” he said.