Football

Elber: Brazilian football still in a mess

Elber says Brazil's football is second-rate and corruption has infested Olympic preparations

He remembers watching that World Cup semi-final vividly.

Even though Brazil have featured in 11 semi-finals in the 20 editions of the competition, he insists that no further elaboration is required as any Brazilian mind will be instantly transported to the day Germany demolished the team 7-1.

But Giovane Elber is not the average Brazilian, he watched that mauling wearing the jersey of the conquerors - Germany - that fateful day in 2014.

The former Brazil international spent six years as the striking spearhead of Bayern Munich, and now admittedly feeling closer to his adopted home, even speaking through a German translator for this interview.

He says Brazil have not learnt the lessons from that match, and even a first football gold at the Rio Olympics in August will not soothe spirits.

"The memory of that 7-1 loss is ingrained in every Brazilian soul. People are still talking about it now, and even winning the Olympic gold medal won't erase that," said Elber, speaking on the sidelines of a clinic at the Home United Football Academy on Wednesday.

The 43-year-old was in town for pre-trial selections for next month's Allianz Junior Football Asia Camp, where kids from the region will be selected for a stint at Bayern's famed academy.

"Whether it's 7-1 or 1-0, a loss is still a loss, but the more important thing is that I don't think they have learnt from that - they are still making the same mistakes," he said.

"The (expected) high professional standards are still not in the team, and I'm really disappointed with the national team."

STRUGGLES

Since that German demolition job, Brazil have struggled in the qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup, lying sixth in the 10-team South American (Conmebol) standings.

Elber describes Dunga's Brazil as mediocre and has written off their chances of winning the Copa America - which kicks off tomorrow morning (Singapore time) in Santa Clara when hosts the United States face Colombia - especially without talismanic forward Neymar who will instead play at the Olympics.

And it will be a while before the world will groove to the samba beat again.

"Germany demonstrated that with professionalism, dedication, focus and hard work, you can beat Brazil 7-1, and Brazil haven't turned around from that," said Elber.

"The problem with Brazil is that they are used to being No. 1 in football, and that is helped along by the media that keeps saying that they are still a great team.  

"They haven't learnt to look up to others - and learn, even if other teams have moved ahead.

"For Brazil to be No. 1 again, what is needed is time. There are young players (like Santos' Gabriel Barbosa) who must be integrated into a team whose mindset must be willing to acknowledge and learn from mistakes."

Elber, who won four Bundesliga titles as well as the Champions League with Bayern, revealed that winning the Olympic football gold - the only international accolade that has eluded Brazil - is high up on the national agenda.

But he believes it will still be scant consolation for a country that missed out on the opportunities presented by hosting two of the biggest sporting events - the World Cup and this year's Olympics.

 "Brazil really missed a chance at the World Cup to take the country to the next level. The money did not go into infrastructure, corruption is preventing that leap - and now it's happening again (leading up to the Olympics)," he said.

"If infrastructure was built (before the World Cup), we can go nicely into the Olympics, but how can you build stadiums when there are no schools?"

"I'm not against the Olympics, but it's not the right thing to do, especially considering there are other bigger problems.

"But I will enjoy the Olympics when it comes."

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