Thursday, 2 February, 2023

Tite defends Brazil goal celebrations

Tite defends Brazil goal celebrations
Brazil forward Neymar takes part in training session at Al Arabi SC Stadium in Doha on Thursday, on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarterfinal football match against Croatia. —AFP Photo

Brazil coach Tite has hit back at criticism of his players' dancing goal celebrations in their World Cup win over South Korea, dismissing suggestions they showed a lack of respect.

The tournament favourites produced some carnival football as they crushed the Koreans 4-1 on Monday and celebrated their goals with choreographed moves, while even Tite himself joined in at one point.

The celebrations divided opinion outside Brazil and the dancing by Neymar and his teammates has been one of the main talking points going into Friday's quarter-final clash with Croatia in Doha.

"This is not my national team. It is the Brazilian national team for which I have responsibility as coach," Tite said when asked about the celebrations at a press conference on Thursday.

"I am sorry for people who don't know the history and culture of Brazil and our way of being."

The pressure on Brazil's new generation of stars is enormous as they look to win the World Cup for a record-extending sixth time, two decades after the Selecao last lifted the trophy in Japan in 2002.

The question now is whether they can continue to play with the joy they displayed against South Korea as the tournament in Qatar reaches the business end, but Tite said it was all about the personality of his players.

"It is the identity of Brazilian football and of the generation that has emerged," said the veteran coach, who won the Club World Cup in charge of Corinthians a decade ago.

While Neymar and full-back Danilo returned from ankle injuries to play against South Korea, Brazil have been sweating on the fitness of Alex Sandro for the meeting with Croatia.

The Juventus left-back has missed the past two games in Qatar with a muscle injury.

Meanwhile, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic hailed his country's new generation of players just for making it to the World Cup quarter-finals but skipper Luka Modric believes they can pull off a shock result against tournament favourites Brazil.

"This is a new national team. We have 18 new players who were not here four years ago," Dalic said of his squad on the eve of the showdown with Brazil in Doha.