Tite defends Brazil's poor display against Panama

PORTO • Brazil coach Tite has defended the 1-1 friendly draw with Panama as "normal" despite the national team producing one of their most insipid displays in recent memory.

Prior to Saturday's meeting at Porto's Dragao Stadium on Saturday, the 76th-ranked Central American minnows had never scored against their opponents before, losing all four previous meetings and conceding 16 goals in the process.

Many had expected more of the same from Tite's third-ranked team.

But, despite enjoying 78 per cent of the ball and twice hitting the woodwork through Richarlison and Casemiro, they could not find the second goal following Lucas Paqueta's first international strike.

Star forward Neymar, out with a fractured foot, watched the game from the stands, with Panama equalising through skipper Adolfo Machado's header from what looked like an offside position.

However, Tite felt that while the "performance was not brilliant, it was not below par either", claiming it was an experimental side even though there were big names on the field including Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho.

The 57-year-old told reporters post-game: "What do we establish at this stage now? We gave young people opportunities.

"After half-time, there were some adjustments we made. At the interval, we were able to reorganise and we then went to a level of normality, but the first half was below expectations.

"Today, we had a defensive line with (Eder) Militao and (Alex) Telles. This is the stage we are in. When we go to the Copa America, then I make the best choices.

"My expectation was to be a bit more creative, but I also have to accept that the midfield is going to make errors.

"I have to make these modifications so that the game can have a creative process with the forwards.

"The supporters are there to listen, to understand, to be annoyed by the result. Normally that's the way it is.

"If I am a fan, I want to win against Panama. We have to understand the context, just as we have to understand the construction of the team."

The Selecao will next play another friendly against the Czech Republic tomorrow as they prepare to host this year's Copa America, which starts on June 14.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2019, with the headline 'Tite defends Brazil's poor display against Panama'. Print Edition | Subscribe