Brazil has no obligation to win the World Cup: Pele
Football legend says it's more important that the hosts play beautiful football at 2014 FIFA World Cup; adds that team's ultimate challenge will be to face the tremendous pressure of home fans
Sao Paulo: "Brazil has no obligation to win the World Cup!"
Surprising? Yes! Especially when these words come from the best footballer in the history of the game and the son of the soil, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a.k.a Pele!
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Pele was speaking at a magazine launch in a five-star here on Sunday night.
Accompanying the legend was Cafu — the only player to have appeared in three World Cup finals. Together, these two footballers have five World Cup trophies in their cabinet.
'Obligation to play well'
"But Brazil has the obligation to play well. Entertaining football — the football that attracts people, the kind of football that had made Brazil the best football-playing nation in the world," added Pele.
Brazilian football legend Pele (right) along with compatriot Cafu at the launch of a magazine on Sunday. Pics/Kashinath Bhattacharjee
On how to counter the pressure of expectation, Pele said, "Yes, it is difficult, very difficult to play well under such tremendous pressure of expectation.
That is the ultimate challenge. I want to thank (Luiz Felipe) Scolari for the way he has come ahead and taken the responsibility on his shoulder. It's a young team and they need our support. But when they played a bad match, Scolari took the responsibility publicly which showed how mature a coach he is."
Pele continued, "Football is a strange game. You can play very well through 85 minutes and still lose the game in the remaining five. So, there is no question of underestimating any opponent.
'Show them respect'
"Show them respect till the end of the match as anything can happen any time." When he went to Switzerland in 1958 as a 17-year-old, Brazil was not known in Europe as a football-playing country.
"They had some strange ideas about South America. Brazil was all about the Amazon, Manaus. People even asked whether Brazil and Argentina were the same country!
Later, through our football, we had made it known to the world what Brazil is all about." Pele was a little boy of 10 years when Brazil had lost the last match of the 1950 World Cup (not the official 'Final' though, it was the last match of the second stage of the group in the tournament). He recollected in his autobiography that he saw everybody, including his father, crying inconsolably on that night.
Time to avenge 1950
When asked if he would like to see a Brazil-Argentina final in 2014, Pele said, "Not really! I would like to see a repeat of the 1950 final, Brazil vs Uruguay, so that we can have revenge for 1950."
Even after 64 long years, Pele has not forgotten 'Maracanazo', the disaster of Maracana in that 1950 final, like any other common Brazilian on the street!