SINGAPORE - If he was still feeling snoozy after his overnight flight from Paris, Neymar would have been awakened by the beat of the samba drumming that greeted him at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach early on Monday morning (Oct 7).
The Brazil superstar, who scored the last goal in his club Paris Saint-Germain's 4-0 win over Angers on Saturday, and his Selecao teammates are in town for the Brazil Global Tour which sees the five-time world champions face Senegal and Nigeria on Thursday and Sunday respectively in two international friendlies at the National Stadium.
Stepping out of a minivan after his compatriots and PSG colleagues Marquinhos and Thiago Silva, the 27-year-old Neymar, who wore a black cap, white T-shirt, khaki pants, as well as diamond-studded necklace and earrings, looked bleary-eyed as he scanned his surroundings.
It was 7.30am and while there were just nine fans, who had waited for an hour, outside the hotel, Neymar stopped to sign a caricature of himself and four jerseys - including some of his former club Barcelona which he has been heavily linked with a return to - before striding into the JW Marriott in under a minute.
On Brazil's last visit to the Republic in 2014 for an exhibition against Japan, Neymar scored all four goals in the 4-0 win in front of more than 50,000 fans at the National Stadium.
Undergraduate Amanpreet Singh, 23, told The Straits Times: "It is understandable after a long flight, but at least Neymar stopped.
"The poor turnout could be attributed to the fact that it is early Monday morning, when people have to work or go to school. And there are just a few players coming in batches this time round.
"I was also here for Inter Milan when they arrived at the same hotel for the International Champions Cup in July, and there were also just about 25 fans for the entire team on a Wednesday morning."
"But it is also good for us early birds because we stand a higher chance of getting an autograph or wefie."
The number of fans grew to 15 by the time the second batch of Brazilians - Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Fabinho, and Everton's Richarlison - arrived with contrasting moods at 7.50am.
While Richarlison went straight into the hotel, the Reds duo stopped to spend some time with the fans. Flashing his megawatt smile, Liverpool forward Firmino, decked in a black Versace hoodie, entertained autograph and wefie requests while his clubmate Fabinho also followed suit.
Sales manager Dominic Teng, 31, said: "I had hoped Firmino would stay longer but he did look tired and it is okay because both he and Fabinho were very accommodating.
"It is really fantastic and breathtaking to be able to see and interact with our football heroes in person.
"While I will be at the Brazil-Senegal game to watch and support them, I hope the Liverpool players don't get too many minutes because they have a big league match against Manchester United on Oct 20."
Even though only 11 Brazil players (including Philippe Coutinho, Dani Alves, Lucas Paqueta, Casemiro and Eder Militao) are expected to arrive on Monday - the rest of their 23-man squad will fly in on Tuesday - the initial group are scheduled to train at the Kallang Football Hub on Monday evening.