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World Cup 2014
 

Football: Scolari unruffled over Hulk fitness

Published on Jun 17, 2014 7:10 AM
 
Brazil's midfielder Hulk controls the ball during the Group A football match between Brazil and Croatia at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. -- PHOTO: AFP

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AFP) - Hulk not being fit to play in host Brazil’s second World Cup finals Group A game with Mexico would not be the end of the world according to coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday.  

A leg muscle problem means the Zenit St Petersburg forward – who started the opening 3-1 win over Croatia – is rated doubtful as Brazil look to cement their postion atop the group by beating the Mexicans, who also won their opening match.  

“We’ll see how things transpire and decide before the match,” said Scolari.  

Asked about Hulk missing training Scolari batted the question away.  

“He didn’t come as he’d have done nothing here – he wouldn’t have run, wouldn’t have participated. There was no need for him to come so he stayed behind and had treatment.  

“I can choose a replacement with my eyes closed,” insisted Scolari, Brazil’s World Cup-winning coach from 2002 who is bidding to land a sixth crown for his homeland but a first on home soil.  

“There will be no problem. I have 23 players and I think I’ve selected them well.  

“I have players with different characteristics and different qualities to Hulk who can bolster the team.” Likely to replace Hulk should he not make the game after tweaking his left hamstring is Chelsea midfielder Ramires, though other possibilities include Willian or Bernard.  

Hulk is hoping to make the date, nonetheless, as he hails from the city of Campina Grande in the impoverished north-eastern state of Paraiba, not far from Fortaleza, in the state of Ceara.  

“There is no way I want to miss this game, because it will be in the north-east and all my family will be there,” he said Sunday.  

“When Brazil play up there it is always a party. Everything started there in the Confederations Cup when the whole stadium sang the national anthem together,” It was at Fortaleza that Brazil saw off Mexico in the same venue at last year’s Confederations Cup.  

Mexico, who opened their campaign with a win over Cameroon, did, however, shock the Selecao in the London Olympics final two years ago.  

Asked about the Olympic defeat, Scolari said: “I wasn’t there – though as a fan I didn’t like it as we lost.  

“We respect Mexico – they always play very well against Brazil. They are warriors and very well organized.  

“We have to look at certain details to try to hurt them,” said Scolari, noting that Brazil could be confident going into the game with three points under their belts.  

Asked to comment on the refereeing to date at the tournament with Brazil winning a soft penalty against Croatia and Mexico having two goals chalked off against Cameroon Scolari said “I have no problems with the refereeing.  

“The referee blows his whistle and we play.” His Mexico counterpart Miguel Herrera said that his side emboldened by their win over Cameroon would be gunning for points against the hosts.  

“We came here with the intention of doing better than previous World Cups (they have never got past the quarter-finals),” said Herrera.  

“We have begun well and to take points against Brazil would be fantastic and a big step towards the next stage.  

“We know it will be tough but we want the three points and we will do everything we can to get them.”

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