Football: Keen competition for spots makes it tough to pick line-up, says Brazil coach Tite

Tite took Brazil to the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals. PHOTO: AFP

(AFP, REUTERS) - Brazil coach Tite has a happy headache ahead of this year's World Cup in Qatar - the keen competition for places in Selecao's squad is making it tough for him to pick the line-up.

After a 5-1 thrashing of South Korea in a friendly in Seoul on Thursday (June 2), Tite said: "It was difficult to put together the starting XI. Everyone here wants to make the World Cup squad and has been playing well.

"Even after talks with my staff, it was not easy to choose the starting line-up.

Tite, who took Brazil to the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals where they lost to Belgium, added that they are aiming to reach the final at the Nov 21-Dec 18 showpiece tournament and their dream is to win it.

In front of 65,000 fans at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Neymar scored two penalties to close on Pele's goal record for Brazil, upstaging South Korea captain Son Heung-min, the joint Premier League top scorer who was kept quiet.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward netted his 72nd and 73rd goals for his country to come within striking distance of the legendary Pele's 77 for Brazil.

Neymar, 30, had been a doubt for the match after he suffered a right foot injury during training on Wednesday, but he was the star of the show on a night when Richarlison, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus all scored.

Brazil, ranked No. 1 in the Fifa rankings, fielded a strong side and looked dangerous almost from the opening seconds with a header by Thiago Silva wiped out by an offside call.

Brazil took advantage of poor South Korean defending to take the lead on seven minutes.

Alex Sandro was left open as he charged into the left side of the box and he set up Fred for a shot from close range. The Manchester United midfielder misfired but the ball took a fortuitous bounce to Richarlison, whose scrappy effort deflected in off goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu.

Bordeaux forward Hwang Ui-jo levelled the score for the hosts on the half-hour mark, turning and firing it in off the left post with a smart finish. But that goal came against the run of play and Brazil went ahead again on 42 minutes.

South Korean defender Lee Yong was called for a foul on Sandro inside the box and after a video review Neymar stepped up, nonchalantly putting his penalty to the left of goalkeeper Kim.

Neymar scored his second penalty on 57 minutes, once again after a VAR intervention and again rolling the ball to Kim's left, the ball almost dribbling into the net.

Substitutes Coutinho - who had come on for Neymar - and Jesus added gloss to the scoreline with two well-taken strikes.

Before the match, Tottenham Hotspur star Son was awarded South Korea's highest sporting honour, the Cheongnyong Medal, by President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Tite said that keeping Son quiet had been vital.

"We knew South Korea would try to rely on Son Heung-min as much as possible," he said. "When he was playing on the left wing we put Dani Alves on him, with Casemiro and Marquinhos also helping out.

"He is a great finisher and he could have been a dangerous player against us. That he scored 23 goals in the Premier League (last season) shows the kind of player he is."

Son, meanwhile, hopes the drubbing will prove a learning experience for his World Cup-bound team.

"It was an honour to be able to learn from such a world-class team," Son told Yonhap News Agency. "It was an extremely difficult match for us, but it was also an opportunity to learn a great deal.

"They are the kind of players that can exploit even small mistakes, and we have to improve in that aspect," he added.

"Most of the five goals they scored were the results of our miscues. On the other hand, I think it was encouraging for us to create scoring chances against such a powerful team."

South Korea also play Chile, Paraguay and Egypt this month as they prepare for their 10th successive appearance at the World Cup finals in Qatar later this year, while Brazil's next match is against Japan in Tokyo on Monday.

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