No "saudade" for Brazil's World Cup team

PORT ELIZABETH Sat Jul 3, 2010 6:16am EDT

1 of 2. Brazil's Felipe Melo (C) scores an own goal past his goalkeeper Julio Cesar during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match against Netherlands in Port Elizabeth July 2, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

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PORT ELIZABETH (Reuters) - The word "saudade" is one of the most distinctive and frequently used in the Portuguese language, a barely translatable term used to describe deep longing for something or someone that is gone.

It is a sentiment which few will be feeling for Brazil's 2010 World Cup team.

The five-times champions were due to head home on Saturday evening and are almost certain to receive a mauling from the media, already at loggerheads at coach Dunga over his team's perceived lack of style and flair, after their quarter-final exit at the hands of Netherlands.

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo suggested that Felipe Melo, cast as the villain after an own goal and sending-off in Friday's game, should keep a low profile in the next few weeks.

"Felipe Melo should not spend his holiday in Brazil," he wrote on his Twitter page. "The boys fought, were dignified and strong. Unfortunately we all lost."

Despite being one of the most technically gifted teams at the World Cup, Dunga's team put work rate, tactics and patriotism above talent and showed only isolated flashes of inspiration.

They brought only four forwards and two creative midfielders to South Africa, were not prepared to take risks and then criticized their opponents for "not wanting to play."

Some of the selections were inexplicable, such as the inclusion of former Manchester United midfielder Kleberson at the expense of Ronaldinho or Santos youngster Paulo Henrique Ganso.

The only source of midfield inspiration was Kaka, who was still regaining full fitness after a difficult debut season with Real Madrid.

Inspired by the rantings of coach Dunga on the touchline, they harassed referees, received two red cards in five games and their matches against Ivory Coast, Portugal and Netherlands were three of the most niggly at the World Cup.

Dunga placed the emphasis firmly on efficiency and tactical discipline but, instead of that, Brazil fell to pieces in the second half against the Dutch after conceding an equalizer out of the blue shortly after the break.

Playing uninspiring football and failing to win the World Cup is the worst possible combination in the eyes of the Brazilian public and Dunga's side is likely to join the 1966 and 1990 teams in being considered the worst the country has produced.

Carlos Alberto Torres, captain of Brazil's winning 1970 World Cup team, said Dunga had paid the price for blind loyalty to the team which won the 2007 Copa America and the Confederations Cup last year.

"He went on about this business of having a united, closed group," Carlos Alberto told Reuters. "That's nonsense. The national team is for the best.

"Because of this philosophy, he left out the Santos lads, who are in great form, and experienced players, who you always need in a Cup."

Dunga made it clear after Friday's stunning defeat that his four-year cycle had ended, leaving Brazil to search for his successor.

The early speculation had 2002 World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari among the favorites. It will need a brave man to take on the job as, with Brazil hosting the competition, the pressure will be greater than ever.

(Editing by Michael Holden)

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