Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 15th 2013 Contents A53
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LAUSANNE---Kobe Bryant has
joined forces with the IOC to
promote a global get-active
The Los Angeles Lakers star --- a
two-time Olympic gold medalist with
the US --- posted a video yesterday
urging people to take part in sports
activities on "Olympic Day" on June
Bryant, who is recovering from
surgery to repair a torn Achilles
tendon, says "I can't run, I can't jump
and I can't swim yet, so I need you
guys to pick up the slack for me and
be doubly active."
The International Olympic
Committee marks an Olympic Day
every year to encourage people of all
ages and abilities to get active. (AP)
Bryant promotes IOC's get-active campaign
BRASILIA---Brazil will be playing for
more than a victory when it faces Japan
in the Confederations Cup opener today.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said yesterday
that winning the first match will be crucial
to win the support of demanding home
fans and to put the squad on the right
track for its fourth title in the World Cup
"It's fundamental to win this match and
that's what I've been telling the players."
Scolari said. "We need to have the fans on
our side, so it's important we get off to a
Brazil hasn't won a significant title since
the 2009 Confederations Cup in South
Africa and home fans have criticised and
jeered the national team following a series
of poor results recently.
"We need to take advantage of the home
fans, and to do that we need to play well,"
Scolari said. "Our team is not fully ready
yet and we know it's not going to be easy,
but we need to work hard to keep the fans
on our side."
Scolari led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup
title but has endured disappointing results
in the seven matches he coached since
returning to the national team in December.
Brazil is coming off a convincing 3--0 win
over France in its final warm-up, but it
had won only one of its six matches until
then, against Bolivia.
Scolari and the Brazilian players were
loudly jeered and booed by nearly 50,000
home fans after a 2--2 draw in a friendly
against Chile in April.
Scolari knows first-hand how an opening
loss at home could make the team's path
to the title more difficult. He was head of
the home team when he coached Portugal
at the 2004 European Championships,
when the hosts lost the opening match
but eventually reached the final.
"It's horrible to lose the first match at
home, just horrible," he said. "It's tough
to handle and that's something we have
to avoid at all costs. If we lose, it's going
to be difficult with the fans, the media,
Scolari said it's even tougher because
Brazil is not as respected at home as it is
abroad. Brazilian fans often feel distant
from the national team, in part because
most of the players are from foreign clubs.
This time the coach included 11 players
from domestic clubs in the Confederations
Cup squad, repeating the winning formula
of the 2002 team that thrived in South
Korea and Japan, when 13 members played
at home. Since then, the national team has
had only a handful of domestic players in
The current players know the respon-
sibility that comes with playing at home.
"There's always a lot of pressure when it
comes to the Selecao,' but even more now
here at home," said Neymar, the 21-year-
old Barcelona striker touted to lead Brazil
to the title. "We know there is a lot of pres-
sure and we know of our responsibility. But
we have a great group and we will do every-
thing we can to reach our goal of winning
the Confederations Cup and then the World
Cup next year, which everybody knows is
the most important thing for us."
Neymar is carrying Brazil's hopes but
he has struggled with the national team
so far, failing to replicate the success that
he had with Brazilian club Santos before
He scored three of his 20 goals with
Brazil this year, but he hasn't found the
net in nine straight matches, including
some with Santos before the Barcelona
transfer. If he fails to score against Japan
on Saturday, it will mark his longest career
run without a goal.
Brazil has won the last two Confeder-
ations Cups, in 2005 in Germany and in
2009 in South Africa. It also won the 1997
tournament in Saudi Arabia. The five-time
world champions haven't won a significant
title since the 2009 tournament. Only goal-
keeper Julio Cesar and defender Daniel
Alves were in that squad.
"The team has been revamped and it's
always hard when you start from scratch,"
Neymar said. "But we are starting to put
a team together and that's the most impor-
tant thing right now. We know we have
talented players who can make a difference
in the end."
Brazil beat Japan 4--0 in a friendly last
October, when coach Mano Menezes was
still ain charge of the national team. (AP)
practices during a
training session in
Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday.
Brazil will face Japan in
the opening match of
the Confederations Cup
on June 15. AP PHOTO
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