Neymar aiming for an encore at Kallang
Brazil superstar hoping to score in Singapore again
Singapore seems to hold a special allure for Neymar.
The last time he strutted his stuff at the National Stadium in Oct 2014, he had the crowd sashaying to his samba beat as he scored all the goals in a 4-0 win over Japan.
It remains the most goals he has scored in a single match for the Selecao.
Nearly five years to that day, the 27-year-old forward is set to join Brazil's centurion club, alongside Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Dani Alves, Lucio, Claudio Taffarel and Robinho.
Yesterday, Neymar was presented with a Brazil jersey with the No. 100 emblazoned on its back by 1994 World Cup winner Bebeto, as he sat next to a plaque commemorating his centurion status at a pre-match press conference at JW Marriott Hotel ahead of Brazil's clash with Senegal at the National Stadium tonight.
When The New Paper asked Neymar if Singapore has become a special place for him, he said: "My last time I was here, I scored four goals and I expect that tomorrow I can score more and Singapore will give me luck again."
Since moving to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record fee of 222 million euros (S$336.3m) in August 2017, he has endured a couple of seasons blighted by injury.
His name has been conspicuous by its absence in the top three of Fifa's Best Men's player award for the last two years and he was also outside the podium places of last year's Ballon d'Or reckoning.
But Neymar remains supremely confident in his ability.
When asked if he could return to football's highest echelons, he said: "Yeah, I believe that (I can be the best in the world). Unfortunately, these last two years, I had two serious injuries and the recovery took too long.
"I prepared my mind to come back, to return. It was a really long summer for me, but I prepared myself for every circumstance. I was prepared to leave Paris or stay in Paris...
"And now I have started this season in a really good way."
That swagger was again in evidence when the Brazilian media asked him how he felt about the criticism Selecao coach Tite receives for supposedly affording the PSG star special treatment.
Said Neymar: "I have been playing for the national team for almost 10 years and I have a lot of responsibility and carry a lot of pressure. I don't hide...
"When a player achieves high levels, why not treat him as an important player. The team are not jealous about that.
"(Lionel) Messi has special treatment at Barcelona and he deserves and has earned that.
"It's something that happened because he had a great career, winning many titles. In football, it's normal. It's part of the history of football to have players who are treated differently."
Meanwhile, Tite has slammed Pitch, the company that runs Brazil's friendly schedule. Reuters reported that Brazil were not allowed to train at the National Stadium ahead of tonight's match because the pitch was "not in the best shape".
TODAY: Brazil v Senegal, 8pm
SUNDAY: Brazil v Nigeria, 8pm
VENUE: National Stadium
TICKETS: $29-$299 per game or $49-$449 for both games. From www.sportshubtix.sg, Singapore Indoor Stadium box office, all SingPost outlets, The Star Performing Arts Centre box office and Scotts Square concierge desk or call 3158-7888