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Brazil may not have won in their last three matches, and while defensive midfielder Casemiro admitted the Selecao haven’t been at their best, most recently in Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Senegal at the National Stadium, he insisted there is no need to panic.

The stalemate comes after a 2-2 draw with Colombia and a 1-0 loss to Peru last month, and the last time Brazil failed to win in three straight games was in 2013.

But Casemiro assured Brazil fans that positive results will return, starting with the friendly against Nigeria on Sunday, when he said at the Brazil Global Tour press conference last night: “We have no doubts it wasn’t our best game.

“Everybody could see that, everyone expects Brazil to win every game we play, and we have an obligation to give our best in every match even if results may be beyond our control.

“But we also have to note these are friendlies, important games against strong African teams we may meet at the next World Cup. We need these games to try different players like Renan Lodi and Matheus Henrique and develop our tactics and strategy to help us for major assignments like the World Cup Qualifiers and Copa America, which we won.


“We are honest and we know that ourselves, that we need to do better. On Sunday, we have another match to show our quality, to show why we are in the national team. We will analyse our match against Senegal to see what we need to improve on.”

These will include getting more goals out of their front line and making sure their defence can keep pace with speedy attackers.

To be fair to the Brazilians, in the bigger scheme of things, the defeat by Peru is the only reverse in their last 19 games since their quarter-final loss to Belgium at last year’s World Cup.

Casemiro said: “The good thing is coach Tite knows what to do. He is trying to play us in roles which we are already playing at club level, and I think this will get the best results from us because we are in the national team for doing well with our clubs.”

Even as a star-studded Brazil side – featuring the world’s most expensive footballer Neymar, and the likes of Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Philippe Coutinho and Dani Alves – threw away the lead on Thursday, the second time they have done so in their last three games, Casemiro rejected the notion they face a mental block as they plot to end a 20-year drought and win a record sixth world title at Qatar 2022.


The 27-year-old Real Madrid man said: “I feel 80 per cent of football is a mental game. It is something our coaches always tell us – if we are mentally strong, we can have a great match. We won the Copa America this year, which shows we are on the right track.”

Casemiro did express his surprise at playing in a half-empty stadium against Senegal on Thursday when the official attendance was 20,621, and hopes more will show up tomorrow.

He said: “I don’t know why it happened because the hotels are always full of fans waiting for us. Sure, we want to always play in front of a lot of fans but our responsibility is to do our best whether there is a crowd or not.”

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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