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Pressure looms on hosts Brazil

2014-06-23 12:59
Brazil fans celebrate (AFP)

Brasilia - Brazil fans will be looking for the hosts not only to beat Cameroon on Monday and top their group but also produce a stylish performance that gives optimism they can go on to win a sixth trophy.

The Brazilians have been far from convincing so far - a point though will suffice to see them into the second round - and need to put up an eyecatching performance against a Cameroon side that is pointless after two matches and whose undisciplined on field behaviour has left their German coach Volker Finke ashamed.

Brazil, though, are not the only fancied team to have under-performed and at least are unbeaten whereas their old colonial power Portugal came within seconds of joining Cameroon on an early flight home in their game with the United States.

However, world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo found one moment of inspiration to produce a sublime cross in the final seconds of time added on and Silvestre Varela rose to power home a header to force a 2-2 draw.

It also for the moment snatched a place in the last 16 from Jurgen Klinsmann's valiant American team.

Portugal's point puts them alongside Ghana, who play each other on Thursday and both still entertain slim hopes of qualifying with a victory.

The Americans can progress with a draw on Thursday against Klinsmann's homeland Germany - whom he coached at the 2006 World Cup finals - which would see both teams qualify.

That match will come under close scrutiny so it is not seen to replicate one of the most notorious matches in the finals history in Spain in 1982.

There Austria and the then West Germany denied Algeria a place in the second round.

With the 'Desert Foxes' having beaten Chile the day before the Germans knew what they had to do to qualify at their expense and having scored an early goal both sides sat back and the Germans got the 1-0 win they required - the game came to be known as the 'Non-Aggression Pact of Gijon'.

Claims of favouritism have been wafting around Brazil's scheduling with The Netherlands' frank speaking coach Louis van Gaal saying Brazil had been favoured by the final round of group games on Monday.

Van Gaal called it "ridiculous" that Brazil, who had their two previous Group A games before the Netherlands in Group B, would now play after his team face Chile on Monday.

He was concerned that Brazil would have an advantage because by the time they play Cameroon, a few hours later, they will know where the Netherlands have finished in Group B.

"FIFA after every match they have this publicity round, 'Fair Play' and things like that. Then FIFA plays these tricks -- it's not good, of course," said Van Gaal.

However, his Brazil counterpart Luiz Felipe Scolari, no shrinking violet himself when it comes to speaking openly, hit back at the Dutchman's remarks.

"The first thing we need to think about is winning and going through. Some people have already said that we are going to choose our opponents. They are either being stupid or malicious," said the 65-year-old.

"If we lose, we might not go through. For us, it is not a question of choosing anyone."

Finke for his part would love to have the problems - real or imagined - of Van Gaal and Scolari.

Instead the harassed looking German has had to not only call on his players to restore their battered image - the defeat by Croatia ended with left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto aiming a headbutt at team-mate Benjamin Moukandjo - but also combat claims from FIFA's Head of Security Ralf Mutschke the game was "more of a risk than the opening game or the final," to matchfixers.

"It must be a rumour and I've not even heard it spoken about yet," said Finke.

"Knowing the team as I do, for me it is impossible. We don't need to worry about that, I'm sure."

Elsewhere on Monday deposed champions Spain will bid to end their disastrous campaign with a consolation win over a young Australian side and Croatia need to beat Mexico in the other game in Brazil's group to progress at the Mexicans' expense.

Read more on: brazil swc 2014 soccer

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