Tite, the coach of Brazil, has responded to criticism of his team’s dancing goal celebrations in their World Cup victory over South Korea, denying claims that they demonstrated disrespect.
The tournament favorites played some carnival football as they defeated the Koreans 4-1 on Monday and choreographed dances to celebrate each of their goals. At one point, even Tite got involved.
The celebrations caused controversy outside of Brazil, and Neymar and his teammates’ dancing has been one of the hot topics leading up to Friday’s quarterfinal matchup 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 61-year-old, who is in charge of Brazil at his second World Cup and will retire at the conclusion of the competition, hinted that he did not feel comfortable joining in the dancing but admitted he wanted to connect with his players.
“I am 61 and these players could almost be my grandsons but I have a connection with them,” he said.
“If I have to dance I will dance, although I will do so subtly and I asked them to hide me. It is not my way.”
Two decades after the Selecao last won the World Cup in Japan in 2002, the pressure is on Brazil’s new generation of stars as they attempt to win it for a record-extending sixth time.
As the tournament in Qatar nears its conclusion, it is unclear if they will be able to play with the same enthusiasm they did against South Korea, but Tite insisted that it all came down to the personalities 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.
“We give them the confidence so they can go out and produce their best.
“These are the characteristics of our players, but beyond that pressure, you need courage to play this way.”
Neymar and fullback Danilo were able to play against South Korea after returning from ankle injuries, but Brazil has been concerned about Alex Sandro’s health ahead of the match with Croatia.
Due to a muscle injury, the Juventus left-back missed the previous two games in Qatar.
“It looks unlikely that he will play because he has not yet done enough work on the training ground,” Tite admitted, adding that a decision would be taken after Thursday’s session.
Danilo will remain at left-back if Alex Sandro is unable to play, with Eder Militao of Real Madrid—typically a center-back—filling in on the right.
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