Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dunga Cracking Whip on Team Brazil

An interesting story. Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian Football Federation, made a point of telling a news conference that current national team coach Dunga won't put up with any shenanigans from the 2010 Brazil World Cup team. Assuming Brazil makes it, and it is about 95 percent of the way there.

Teixeira suggests the 2006 Brazil team wasn't quite paying attention to detail at the World Cup in Germany, and that's why the team was ushered out of the quarterfinals by France, 1-0.

"Given the team we had, it was a great disappointment," Teixeira is quoted as saying in a wire story. "There was a lack of fighting spirit."

That's kind of a nebulous accusation. From what I can tell, from researching, it wasn't as if Brazil players were missing curfew or getting arrested or acting badly on the field.

So what is Teixeira referring to when he says things like, "What happened in 2006 will certainly never happen again in terms of the Brazilian national team. You only learn when you suffer. I'll make the changes for that not to happen again"?

Well, here's our best guess.

While googling "Brazil Germany 2006 bad behavior" a bunch of items came up in the return, but here is the most interesting one.

It comes from a blogger who apparently is Brazilian (or speaks Portuguese, at the least), who wrote about Brazil's time at the World Cup.

And if you follow this link ... and scroll down the page to the third item -- "Brazil Is Ready for Failure" -- you will find a really interesting item from a Brazilian newspaper columnist in which he predicts disaster for the 2006 team. And, mind, this was written in May 2006, before the 2006 World Cup had kicked off.

The gist of it is ... that Brazil took a veteran team to Germany (which doesn't have to be bad) ... but this Brazil team, the journalist wrote, was one that happened to be a cynical, world-weary crew of veterans that was more interested in individual than collective success. He mocks the players' demands for individual rooms, a first for Brazil, which before had paired up players as roommates. He refers to them as "highnesses" who can't be bothered with a snoring roommate.

The writer also suggests Brazil had become ensnared in its own legend, feeling obligated to entertain while winning. The writer even refers to them as the Globetrotters -- the American team of basketball showmen who don't actually play real games.

So, yes, this Teixeira thing apparently is about attitude.

And here is where Dunga comes in.

If you want lots of background on Dunga, here is his wikipedia entry.

First, though, start by examining that mugshot.

Does that look like a coach who will put up with guys screwing around? Looking away as global icons seem more devoted to the joga bonito (the beautiful game) at the expense of team goals?

A weird thing here? Dunga is a nickname. The man's real name is Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, which is 1) quite dignified and 2) of Italian and German background. But Carlos CBV got stuck with "Dunga" because, apparently, an uncle though he wouldn't grow up to be very tall, and "Dopey" was the name of one of the Seven Dwarfs (from "Snow White and the ...") and the rest is so not applicable history. Dunga was the hard man of Brazil soccer for three World Cups, the defensive mid who played with passion ... but perhaps not the sort of flair that Brazil prefers -- as long as it still wins.

Dunga is anything but Dopey. And anything but the sort of guy who is going to take any guff from anyone. Ever.

And, my sense is that this is what Teixeira (Dunga's boss) was referring to, the other day. If Brazil loses in South Africa, it won't be because the team lacked focus. That is what Dunga is about. And if Brazil loses some style points along the way ... well, Dunga is ready to make that trade in exchange for a trophy.

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