With only 99 days to go till football’s greatest competition kicks off in South Africa, all teams are busy playing friendlies this week. The Republic of Ireland whose hopes of reaching the World Cup 2010 were slammed when France’s Thierry Henry scored a controversial goal against them in the play-off’s stage played host to Brazil at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday. The match also saw the return of Robinho to England after a very disappointing half season for the Brazillian at Manchester City before being loaned to Santos. The Republic of Ireland started the game well against Brazil who have won the World Cup a record 5 times and have played in all 18 World Cup tournaments.
In the 44th minute however, Brazil got the breakthrough goal off a great pass by Robinho forcing Keith Andrews to score an own goal. The Republic of Ireland manager, Trapattoni however felt that the referee had “special eyes” and that the first goal should not have stood as Robinho was off-side. There was no coming back for the Irish with Robinho scoring yet again in the second half beating the down-on their luck Irish 2-0. Trapattoni believes that Brazil could be the team to beat at the World Cup and its hard to argue with him considering that the two time FIFA World Player of the year Ronaldinho wasn’t even given a spot on the team’s roster for the match. Ronaldinho has already scored 7 times in 2010 and has set up 5 more in last five matches for AC Milan.
Brazil manager Dunga when asked why the in-form 29-year old striker was left out of his squad said, “Pele was once the best player in the world. I played once as well. Players come and players go. We have the team decided but we need certain things defined.”
Its interesting to note that Dunga talks about his playing days and players who are past their prime and hence not worth a spot when talking about Ronaldinho. In 1999, when a 36-year old Dunga was at end of his very long and successful playing career, he was hurried out by the sheer brilliance of a 19-year Ronaldinho. Could it be that Dunga still holds a grudge against the dazzling Ronaldinho for showing him that he was past his prime back in 1999?