June 21, 2009

Robinho: We play with joy

RObinho, renowned    throughout the   world, arrived in South Africa as one of the FIFA Confederations Cup’s star attractions. However, a patchy first game for the dribble wizard had some observers wondering what all the fuss was about. Largely anonymous for chunks of a laboured 4-3 win over Egypt, the Manchester City player turned things around his second outing, a 3-0 defeat of USA in Tshwane/Pretoria that has virtually assured  A Seleção a place in the semi-finals.



“We were a little tired in our first game against Egypt and it showed in the nature of our performance,” Robinho told “Against the United States in our second game, we played very well. We came together as a team and showed the kind of football that we are famous for. We deserved to win and it’s a great feeling to have two wins from two games.

“It’s important to get better with every game in a competition like this,” added the 25-year-old, who inspired Santos to the Brasileirao title in his debut season as a professional and scored 14 goals for Manchester City this term after the club shelled out £32.5m for him at the start of the season. “I think we’re doing just that and I’m pleased about it.”

When asked about the joyous sprit that is evident in the side’s training camp, as well as in the raucous celebrations that followed each of the three goals against USA, Robinho tried to sum up the nature of football in Brazil.

“We Brazilians play with joy in their hearts,” said the deep-lying forward, chief joker in the camp as evidenced by his constant banter, cheeky play and broad smiles at every training session.

“It’s the only way we know how to play and it’s the only way we can play well. Against the United States we showed our joy and expressed ourselves through our football. We hope to keep going and do it again and again here in South Africa.”

After Felipe Melo opened the scoring for the Brazilians in the seventh minute against USA, Robinho doubled the lead, getting on the end of a clinical and lightning-fast counter-attack in the 20th minute. It was his first goal of these finals and a proud moment for the young man.

“It’s great to be off the mark on a personal level, but it’s much more important to help the team,” he said, recalling the cool, slotted finish that slipped past goalkeeper Tim Howard and into the back of the net, virtually putting the game beyond the North Americans’ reach. “Just to wear the canary-yellow jersey of Brazil is an absolute honour.

It’s something that you dream about from when you’re a small boy. Our goal is simple: to play the best football we can and at the end to be parading around the pitch with the trophy as champions.” Even with a thrilling performance, which will surely have the rest of the competition from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg shaking in their boots, Robinho is still unwilling to label his Brazil side as favourites. “It wouldn’t be right to call ourselves favourites here in South Africa,” he said.

“There are great teams here that play really quality football. Italy, Spain to name just two. Either one of these teams could be champions, but so can we and this is our goal.”