=============================================================================== B R A Z I L Mauricio Dziedzic =============================================================================== Two sentences say it all: Brazil is the only country to have played in all World Cup finals, and, by virtue of having been the first nation to ever win three world cup titles, it is the rightful owner of the Jules Rimet trophy (prior to 1970, the trophy would be in the possession of the prevalent World Champions). The yellow jerseys of Brazil evoke magic memories of World Cups past, and God's gifted football wizards that wore them are household names around the globe. A Brazilian travelling abroad has only to mention his nationality and a stream of names will start pouring from the mouths of people, from cab drivers and waiters to scientists. Pele, Garrincha, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Socrates, Zico, and Falcao are only a few of the players that are regularly mentioned. The exodus of the country's top players to European teams which started during the 1980's can be highlighted as a major factor preventing the formation of a cohesive side. Different schedules between European and Brazilian tournaments, plus the unwillingness of clubs to release players for training or friendly internationals have all contributed to Brazil's troubles during this period. Add to that the fact that players sent to the World Cup finals who are still playing on home soil tend to use the opportunity to showcase their talents and land multi million dollar contracts, therefore play for individual glory rather than for the team's benefit. However, it is felt that the tide may be about to turn. European teams are no longer as well off financially as they were, while Brazilian clubs are being restructured and now offer better rewards for the home talent. Also, while the team that represented Brazil in Italy in '92 has now matured, a new generation of players has emerged and there is no shortage of skill to choose from. A convincing and thorough beating of Uruguay in the last game of the qualifying series lifted Brazil to the top of its group and ensured the continuation of a perfect participation record in the W.C. finals. However, the defeat by Bolivia, partly avenged by the six-goal win in the home leg, was Brazil's first ever defeat in a qualifying competition. Brazil's play during the first half of the tournament, all away matches, clearly showed that it takes more than individual talent to win a game. Some of the media said it takes a coach too. The performances were irregular and reflected the consequences of assembling a team just prior to the matches. The side should have been put together during the Copa America, but European clubs refused to release players at that time. Many Brazilians feared that the team might not make it to USA '94. The 1-1 draw against Uruguay in Montevideo showed a glimpse of better days to come, as the team started to shape up and only allowed Uruguay to equalise as a result of an individual mistake by newcomer Antonio Carlos, who took the pitch as a substitute without time for a proper warm-up. The home matches hoisted Brazil to the top of the group, buying Carlos Alberto Parreira, the coach, more time to prove his defensive style. Most fans would rather see Tele Santana lead the team, but apparently he'll not get another chance after blowing it in 1982. Tele, now coaching Sao Paulo, the current Toyota Cup champions, tends to assemble teams whose style pleases the crowds and play the traditional Brazilian ``happy'' football. Parreira, aided by Zagalo who coached the brilliant 1970 team, has a different philosophy, leaning towards a more defensive style of play. Dunga, a player much criticized by most of the media and fans, personifies this style and seems to have a guaranteed place in the squad.