Brazilian great talks to mid-day.com on football in his country and elsewhere
"In football, you go from genius to idiot in a matter of minutes" was his most famous quote. He did experience it in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final when he had entered the field as a substitute and missed a penalty within two minutes against France.
Zico. Pic/Suresh KK
His three attempts with the Selecao could not bring the cherished trophy to the land of football. Neither he could do so as an assistant coach in 1998. "The omen of Zico" prompted the Brazilian football fans and he was never given the responsibility to coach the national team.
The White Pele, as Arthur Antunes Coimbra is known to the football fans around the globe, is now working from the bench for the FC Goa outfit in Indian Super League for the second year on trot. He found the time to speak to mid-day.com
On Brazilian Football:
Do you support the view that Brazil changed its way of playing since your team could not win a World Cup in three attempts?
Yes, I won't disagree that the football in Brazil has changed a lot since the 2002 World Cup win. A lot I believe has to do with the amount of Brazilians playing in Europe and less emphasis is given to the Brazilians playing in the Brazilian leagues and this has affected the results. I think more opportunity must be given to the players who are in Brazil and not only the ones playing in Europe because they are not necessarily the best ones for the team in my opinion. One perfect example that comes to my mind is Ganso and Neymar who were the best in Brazil in 2010 but they did not feature in the World Cup.
What about the disgraceful defeat in the World Cup 2014 semi-final, losing 1-7 to Germany at Mineirao? Could it have been different with Neymar on the field?
Yes, maybe it would make a difference, but it could be 4-0 not 7-1!
Brazil under Dunga has always portrayed the Dunga-philosophy of counter attacking football that does not go along with the free-flowing Brazilian Gharana. Can it be different now in Dunga's second innings?
I feel Dunga shouldn't be coach of the national team. I have nothing personal against him, but I feel, to coach a team like Brazil, you need to have experience in coaching clubs and some experience in South American football as well. I think Brazil have many other coaches. They (the officials in CBF) can look out for the right person who will get better results for especially in times like these.
What should Brazil do to return to its glory days?
We need to give more priority and value to the players playing in Brazil and also improve the level of our league football. Many young Brazilian players leave the country for Europe at a very young age. Hence, they lose their Brazilian identity and technique of playing and it is difficult for them to adjust to the Brazilian style of playing.
How do you rate Neymar as a footballer? If fit, can he do it for Brazil in 2018?
Yes, he is a very valuable player, a very skilful one. He can make a difference in any team he plays for. But a good player can only do that much. He still needs the support of the other teammates and equal effort from other players. We were unfortunate to not have him for the 2014 World Cup semi-final, but we still have the next World Cup and he will only get better and more mature as a player.
On World Football:
The greatest… Pele or Maradona?
Pele, purely because God made a football player and put all the qualities of a footballer in Pele!
Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
I would have both the players in one team, if I could for FC Goa! They are both phenomenal players. You cannot make comparisons.
You have always preferred Messi purely as a football talent. Is it because he could not win a World Cup like you?
Messi at Barcelona is completely different because he faces different defenders in the La Liga, but it's not the similar case when he plays for Argentina. He faces different opponents and defenders at the international level and his overall team performance also depends on the technically gifted players he plays with at Barcelona. Nevertheless, he is a fantastic player and is still capable of winning the World Cup.
Why were you interested in coaching FC Goa when you knew nothing about it? How did it materialise?
The FC Goa team approached me to take up this position. They travelled to Brazil to meet me. They explained the concept to me and I found it interesting. Also, like I said earlier, in Asia football is getting stronger. It's developing and evolving fast. And I didn't want to be a mere passenger; I am here because I want to be a part of the development of football in this country.
Did you have any information regarding Indian football (you played a match in Kolkata as the coach of Japan against India in a World Cup qualifier) before deciding to take the job?
I know and have been following Indian football quite well. But the biggest problem Indian football have is at the grassroot level. There are good players at under-15 and under-19 level and they learn to be better only after they become professionals. They need to be taught various aspects of football from the very beginning and this will definitely help develop the standard of football here.
What is your impression of Indian football now?
From what I see, there should be better grassroot development programmes especially at the under-15 and under-17 level. If we prepare them well when they are young, we will be able to see better footballers. The talent should be nurtured early. Indian coaches can see such good footballers in the ISL and can show their wards the technique.
How can ISL can change the future of Indian football?
India is a very large country but it is very unfortunate that the standard of football is not too high. For success, we have to work very hard. I have done so in my country and will do the same in India. I will offer my experience and knowledge to make the sport better in the country. If Indian players would like to grow, it depends on their mentality. We can provide help through our rich experience and coaching, but the ability to grow lies solely with the player. I am here to extend my help for the growth of football, irrespective of whether the player is an amateur or professional. My job is to bring out the best in them and I'll do that.