The passion and emotion engendered in Brazil's superstars battling back to win the Confederations Cup final was almost as remarkable as the performance itself.
Samba spirit is winner
JOHANNESBURG// Anyone who saw Brazil's celebrations on the Ellis Park pitch after their Confederations Cup victory over the USA could be forgiven for thinking they had lost a year of their lives and woken up in 2010. The passion and emotion engendered in Brazil's superstars - coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 - was almost as remarkable as the performance itself and could hardly have been any more intense had it been the World Cup final.
To many, the Confederations Cup is little more than a warm-up for the real thing. But after Luis Fabiano scored twice and captain Lucio once in the second half, Brazil's players knelt in a circle in the middle of the pitch and prayed and sung unabashedly as America's disconsolate and bemused team looked on. The sight of Robinho beating a drum as his teammates danced animatedly around him summed up what football means to these players and the way they cheered and clapped each other as Kaka and Fabiano picked up individual awards, for best player and top scorer at the tournament, showed team spirit will not be a problem with this group next year.
That more than anything is what Brazil will take out of the tournament, as experienced midfielder Gilberto Silva admitted. "It was not easy but what we did was something fantastic," he said. "We celebrated the title a lot because it was not easy to achieve. But the personality we have in the team, to come back in the game, and the quality was special. "Every time when you win something for your national team it's like the first one, you must celebrate a lot because it's not easy to do.
"It's something we will never forget. This team showed it has character and we will need that in the World Cup too." It's just as well the Brazilians have character and determination - they also beat South Africa in the semi-final with a last-minute Daniel Alves free-kick - as defensively they have been suspect and there is no doubt the USA deserved their early lead. Clint Dempsey, one of the stars of the tournament, put them ahead with an excellent finish and Landon Donavon made it 2-0 before half following a counter attack.
But the key to the game came a minute into the second half when Fabiano twisted expertly to score with his left foot and make it 2-1. That strike gave Brazil hope and they never looked back as the same player equalised, heading home after Robinho's shot struck the crossbar, and then Lucio headed the winner from an Elano corner. For the USA it was heartbreaking but no one expected them to reach even the semi-finals after losing their first two group games and with time their disappointment may turn to pride.
Dempsey said: "It hurts a lot right now but getting to the final shows we have quality in our side, you don't just get to a final on luck. The most important thing is we get to the World Cup now and use this experience to help us there." email@example.com