SAO PAULO (AFP) – Luiz Felipe Scolari believes Brazil have a solemn duty to win the World Cup on home soil in 2014, but admitted that the faltering giants are nowhere near favourites for a sixth world title.
Scolari is used to guiding Brazil through stormy waters having taken over a side struggling even to qualify for the 2002 World Cup before guiding them to their most recent triumph 10 years ago.
Winning the trophy again in 18 months’ time would take things to a new level given that Brazil famously missed the target on the only other occasion they staged the showpiece — losing the 1950 final in the Maracana to Uruguay.
“We have an obligation to win, we are playing at home. Don’t you think our players are aware of the importance of winning the trophy on home soil?” asked Scolari after he was presented to the media in Rio at the start of his second spell in charge.
“We are not favourites right now but we intend to turn ourselves into favourites during the tournament.”
The pressure looks on after two consecutive poor World Cup showings and a lost Olympic Games final to Mexico which saw predecessor Mano Menezes given the boot.
But Scolari, who had a stellar second spell in charge of Gremio and a less successful second stint with Palmeiras, says he can take the pressure.
“If you don’t want pressure best not to be in the team. Go and work in an office for the Bank of Brazil,” he was quoted as saying by one local newspaper.
The bank retorted by saying it “regrets the coach’s unfortunate comment” which it found distasteful.
Scolari takes the helm of a side currently ranked just 13th in the FIFA standings behind the likes of Greece and Colombia.
As Brazil demand “new methods” Scolari insists he is focused.
“The objective is clear — to win the World Cup in 2014. I don’t feel under pressure. The players are the ones with pressure on them.”
A year after his initial arrival Brazil landed their fifth world title — the Pentecampeao.
Now it is a Hexacampeao that Scolari and his sidekick, 1994 winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, are tasked with winning — using next summer’s home Confederations Cup as a springboard.
“I am happy to work with people who have confidence in me and happy to have at my side someone to share in this task — that is, Parreira,” said Scolari.
“The World Cup project is starting off strongly,” said the man named ‘Felipao’.
“Our sole commitment is to seek out and offer the best for our football and it is in this vein that we have chosen these two great champions, respected not just in our country but worldwide,” Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Jose Maria Marin said.
Scolari, whom Chelsea sacked mid-season in early 2009, was out of work after parting company with Palmeiras last September — the team were later relegated.
Former players are divided on whether Brazil can go back to a glorious future under him.
Ronaldo, whose goals landed the 2002 World Cup title, said: “Congratulations to him. It’s a great challenge for him.”
Zico, star of the early 1980s, also favoured the move.
“Felipao (Scolari) has won so many titles he has to be respected,” he said.
But former skipper Carlos Alberto, who lifted the 1970 World Cup after starring in the Pele-inspired 4-1 thrashing of Italy, is not impressed.
“I don’t know that this is Felipao’s moment. He won in 2002 — but that was 2002! This year he bombed out at Palmeiras.”
Single-mindedness is now the name of the game for the new tandem.
“I’m not talking about there being a ‘Scolari family — but we’re going to foster an atmosphere of unity,” Scolari stressed.
Parreira earlier told Brazilian media that “it’s time to put other problems aside and focus on winning the World Cup.”