Brazil is sending a strong football squad to the London Olympics intent on winning it not just because of the size and prestige of the tournament but also through the fact that they host the next World Cup finals, in two years and are desperate to be champs again.
Brazil also host the next Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, in 2016 so doing well in London is vital for national pride and to appease their always exceptionally high expectations.
One Cayman Islands-based Brazilian who fully appreciates his country’s keenness to win the football tournament at the Games which start on 27 July is Thiago Cunha, the technical director of women’s football here. Cunha was a defender with Vasco da Gama and his father is a former player and now technical director at Vasco.
Brazil, top seeds in Group C and seeking their first Olympic football gold medal, kick off against Egypt on 26 July, before playing Belarus on 29 July and New Zealand on 1 August.
They play a final warm-up game against Team Great Britain at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on Friday.
“I think the Brazil coach Mano is doing a very good job,” Cunha said. “If you see our team most of our team are very young and I’m sure that in two years they will do a very good job. I think these Olympics are very good preparation for the World Cup. I see Neymar doing well in London and being on top in Brazil for the World Cup.”
“I think we have to win in 2014. It is a long time since we hosted the World Cup in Brazil. Last time we lost to Uruguay in 1950 and everyone will be working very hard to make it possible that we are the six times champions. Brazil can do a very good job because we have excellent players.”
Neymar, 20, has scored nine times in 18 appearances for Brazil. He is seen as the future for the nation’s success.
The Brazilian economy is strong at present and that is reflected in their league attracting top players back from Europe – and even non-Brazilians there, like Clarence Seedorf and Diego Forlan.
“I think the Brazilian federation is doing well and we are bringing back national team players from abroad, like Ronaldinho, Luis Fabiano and Juninho,” Cunha said.