SINGAPORE – When Brazil last played in Singapore five years ago, a sellout crowd of 51,577 turned out at the National Stadium to catch Neymar’s dazzling tricks and flicks as the superstar scored all four goals in the five-time World Cup champion’s 4-0 win over Japan.
Fans will be able to catch Neymar and Co’s brand of samba football again next month, with the Selecao set to return to Singapore to play two friendlies at the stadium.
The South Americans, ranked second in the Fifa world rankings, will play Senegal (world No. 20) on Oct 10, before taking on three-time Africa Cup of Nations winner Nigeria (33) three days later. This is the first time that both teams are playing here.
National team coordinator Juninho Paulista told the Brazilian Football Confederation website: “We chose two of the best African teams because they are high-level confrontations and the Brazilian national team has had few encounters (with them) in recent years.”
Singapore Sports Hub chairman Bryn Jones said: “We are thrilled to host two matches of such international stature at our iconic National Stadium. This Brazil versus Senegal and Nigeria will be a treat for all football fans to catch some of the world’s most skillful players in action.”
Last month, The Straits Times reported that discussions were underway for Brazil to play Asean powerhouse Thailand here on Oct 11, but the deal eventually fell through.
But the Brazilians will be heading here after all, this time against two of Africa’s best sides.
Brazil’s first clash against Senegal will see Brazil’s Roberto Firmino and Fabinho come up against their Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly also in action for Senegal.
Other recognisable names in the Brazil v Nigeria match include Everton forward Alex Iwobi and Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi.
Brazil coach Tite is expected to reveal the squad for the friendlies on Friday.
The Singapore national team will not be involved due to World Cup qualifiers during that period, as the Lions travel to face Saudi Arabia on Oct 10 before hosting Uzbekistan at the National Stadium five days later.
Brazil fan Loh Zhang Yuan is relishing the return of the Selecao. The 21-year-old was at the 2014 game and has fond memories of watching his football idol Kaka in action.
He said: “There isn’t really a more iconic symbol of international football than the Brazil national team. They may not be as strong as a couple of decades ago but the flair of their team is always unique. To see them again live would be very special.”
National footballer and Warriors FC winger Gabriel Quak added: “It’s good for fans to have these international teams that are well-supported with superstars come here. Fans can see samba football and also the power and pace of African football.”
Former national swimmer and mixed martial art exponent May Ooi may not be the biggest football fan, but she loves the Brazilians’ flamboyant playing style. She added that stars like Neymar will “leave a long lasting impression on a child” and would encourage them to stay in the sport.
Tickets go on sale from 10am on Thursday (Sept 19) at www.sportshubtix.com.
Fans who have purchased tickets to watch the Singapore vs Uzbekistan World Cup Qualifier on Oct 15 at National Stadium will be entitled to a 30 per cent discount on either one of the matches.