BRAZIL CAPTAIN, ALVES ADMITS, ‘NO EXCUSES’ FOR MISTAKES IN SENEGAL MATCH

Brazil skipper Dani Alves did not mince his words at the mixed zone after Thursday’s Brazil-Senegal friendly that ended 1-1 at the National Stadium.

The 36-year-old right-back said: “After the 2-2 draw against Colombia and the 1-0 loss to Peru, it is now three games without a win, which is not normal for us.

“We are making mistakes but we know this is the Brazil national team we are talking about and there are no excuses.

“We need to produce results and win the next game because in Brazil, results are important.”

In Singapore for the Brazil Global Tour, the five-time world champions fielded a much stronger team than their last visit to the Republic, but produced a more muted performance against a team ranked 17 places below them at world No. 20.

Golden boy Neymar collected his 100th cap for the Selecao, and took only two minutes to complain of an innocuous knock. The flashy backheels, chops and sombreros followed, but the elusive goal did not.

This was largely the script that played out as there was a strangely muted atmosphere compared to the last time Brazil played here, when the Paris Saint-Germain star, then with Barcelona, scored all the goals in a 4-0 win over Japan in front of a 51,577-strong crowd.

Coach Tite tried his best to lift spirits when he sent out his strongest first XI, identical to the one that drew 2-2 with Colombia last month.

Only Neymar remained from the 2014 starting line-up as he linked with fellow fan favourites Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus up front in a 4-3-3 formation, with Casemiro, Arthur Melo and Philippe Coutinho making it a star-studded midfield.

There were also plenty of familiar names in the Selecao defence with Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Alex Sandro protecting goalkeeper Ederson.

It took them just nine minutes to make the breakthrough when Jesus set Firmino free from the right, and the Liverpool forward dinked past Alfred Gomis to make it 1-0.

But the avalanche of goals failed to materialise as Senegal displayed good tactical awareness and positioning to supplement their physical advantage and negate the Brazilian’s fluid passing and movement.

After a minute-long water break in the 27th minute, the Africans’ tenacity and patience paid off in the 45th minute when their main man Sadio Mane charged into the box between Alves and Marquinhos before being bundled over by the latter as referee Muhammad Taqi pointed to the spot.

Despite pleas for Mane to take the kick, it was Famara Diedhiou who calmly slotted into Ederson’s bottom right corner for the equaliser.

For all his showboating and interchanging of positions with Firmino, Neymar was arguably most productive when he allowed two young pitch invaders to take a wefie with him. The 27-year-old looked on in disbelief when he whipped his 69th-minute free kick just over.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said: “We did not follow the plan in the first 10 minutes, but we did very well after that.

“During the break, we discussed and decided to stick closer to key players such as Neymar and Coutinho.

“Brazil are a good team but we are also determined and we managed this result. Unfortunately, we did not win but this is just a friendly and I must congratulate my team for doing a great job and hope that the future will be brighter.”

His opposite number Tite, however, was less than thrilled with the result, saying: “Neymar had been injured and has only just gotten back to the national team. He is still adapting to the way we play.

“We were better in the second half, with more ball circulation. But I am not pleased with the result and overall performance today as they were not what I was looking for. We have more to do.”

His men will have the chance to make amends when they take on world No. 34 Nigeria at the same venue on Sunday.

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