NEYMAR & CO INTERACT WITH FANS DESPITE JET LAG

NEYMAR & CO INTERACT WITH FANS DESPITE JET LAG

The Brazilian national team stars have won many hearts in Singapore as they assemble in the island city-state on Monday ahead of their matches with Nigeria and Senegal.

As a far departure from attitudes of most lesser-rated players from Africa, especially Nigeria, the Brazilian superstars found time to interact with their admirers and fans despite the obvious jetlag that accompanies long trips from Europe to the far east.

According to The Straits Times in Singapore, Samba fever has gripped the island as fans thronged out to see the first batch of the team players that arrived on Monday morning.

Nine fans camped outside the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach hotel from as early as 6am when the first batch of Selecao players – Paris Saint-Germain trio Neymar, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos – reached the hotel in a minivan at 7.30am.

Their number might have been small but there was no doubting their enthusiasm as they extended a noisy welcome to Neymar backed up by the beat of samba drums.

The world’s most expensive footballer looked bleary-eyed as he scanned his surroundings but still produced two cheeky winks.

He also stopped to sign a caricature of himself and four jerseys before striding into the hotel.

Undergraduate Amanpreet Singh, 23, told The Straits Times: “It is understandable after a long flight, but at least Neymar stopped.

“The poor turnout could be attributed to the fact that it is early Monday morning, when people have to work or go to school. And there are just a few players coming in batches this time round.

“I was also here for Inter Milan when they arrived at the same hotel for the International Champions Cup in July, and there were also just about 25 fans for the entire team on a Wednesday morning. But it is also good for us early birds because we stand a higher chance of getting an autograph or wefie.”

The number of fans grew to 15 by the time the second batch of Brazilians – Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino and Fabinho, and Everton’s Richarlison – arrived at 7.50am.

While Richarlison went straight into the hotel, the chirpier-looking Reds duo spent more time with the fans. Flashing his megawatt smile, Firmino entertained autograph and wefie requests while his clubmate Fabinho also followed suit.

Sales manager Dominic Teng, 31, said: “I had hoped Firmino would stay longer but he did look tired and it is OK because both he and Fabinho were very accommodating.

“It is really fantastic and breathtaking to be able to see and interact with our football heroes in person.

“While I will be at the Brazil-Senegal game to watch and support them, I hope the Liverpool players don’t get too many minutes because they have a big league match against Manchester United on Oct 20.”

Philippe Coutinho, Dani Alves, Lucas Paqueta, Casemiro and Eder Militao arrived later in the day and by the time the team left the hotel to train at Kallang Football Hub at 4.45pm, the crowd had swelled to about 40, and the fans were rewarded for their patience when Brazil manager Tite greeted them and Richarlison made amends with some wefies.

The 90-minute workout with 11 players resembled more of a light recovery session to shake off the jet lag, as they broke into little rondo-playing cliques such as the Liverpool gang of Firmino, Fabinho and former playmaker Coutinho, and the PSG group of Neymar, Silva, Marquinhos and former right-back Alves.

Neymar was seen engaging Richarlison in a crossbar challenge which the latter won, before he joined the bulk of the players chilling by the sidelines.

Meanwhile, Marquinhos and Militao were more heavily employed in passing drills while Paqueta also brushed up on his movement and finishing.

At their opening press conference last night, Marquinhos told reporters that the team “are honoured to be here”. He also defended the friendlies, saying: “Club coaches and supporters won’t like that their players go away with the national teams. But you also have to think for our national coach Tite too. How else can he test players and organise the national team? He needs such friendlies.”

Ahead of their test against Senegal, Neymar has good cause to be confident. After all, on Brazil’s last visit to the Republic in 2014 for an exhibition against Japan, he scored all the goals in the 4-0 win in front of more than 50,000 fans at the National Stadium.

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