2010 is the year of the World Cup!
The team at Brazilian Wave did not let us down. They ran after the ball and got the publication rights for an exclusive interview with Dunga, the coach of the Brazilian soccer team for the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The interviewer was Cosme Rímoli, a sports journalist from São Paulo and he has covered the last four World Cups. The interview took place in an airport, just before Dunga left for South Africa to participate in the draw for group positions for the World Cup. It was a light and informal conversation, where the coach talked about his aspirations for the tournament and … after the tournament!
You fear that France and Portugal will not be the key heads? Could they drop into Brazil’s group in the first phase?
Dunga – Look, Brazilians have a habit that I do not agree with. They always think that the worst will happen. I want to clearly state that I do not think that falling into the France or Portugal group is the worst that could happen. All of the hard work during these past three months and a half were done with a goal in mind: to get to the World Cup in the best shape possible. I am going to the group draw for the World Cup without any stress. Brazil does not fear the competition. Logically it is better to start against weaker teams and then play against stronger teams. But sincerely speaking: I am not afraid of France in the first round, and am afraid of nothing and no one. We have done a good job and we are in perfect condition to play against any team. We respect all the other teams, but we never forget that we are the team from Brazil.
Does this mean that you are not worried about the draw?
Dunga – Not in the least, no. When you know that you have done your homework properly, your conviction that everything will turn out alright is greater. I have always been like this with my life. Whoever the competition may be, we are prepared for them. And this is not just talk. This is what I think, what I feel.
Where does this certainty come from?
Dunga – From what we did in the Americas Cup, in the Confederation Cup and in the elimination games. Many people doubt my work. I know this. I had a victorious career as a soccer player. Victorious and long. I have lived through everything that you could imagine in soccer. But I was just a beginner at coaching. I was chosen to change everything. It wasn’t easy. And I achieved some meaningful results. I achieved what many long standing coaches experienced or not, achieved. The pressure was great, but it helped to shape the way; my way of coaching the Brazilian team. I observed a lot, I gave chances to those who deserved them. Choosing players among so many talents was one of my most difficult missions. I was able to put together a team that I believe in. I am convinced that we have done the best possible job for the World Cup.
You stated that you had to change everything. Are you talking about the deception with the Brazilian team during the World Cup in Germany?
Dunga – I was there and know that there were many things that didn’t work out. And I was World champion and captain of the Brazilian team for the World Cup in the United States. There was a change in philosophy, of attitude to what happened in Germany. I will not go into details because I was not a part of that team, all I will say is that I did a serious job during the Cup exactly as I am: very serious, committed. To try and win a World Cup you need to give a lot, surrender and be serious. And we have all of this for the World Cup in Africa. I say this because I know the team that I put together very well.
You mean to say that there will not be all that partying in the preparation phase in Switzerland, like in 2006? Will the players be free to party until 5 am during the World Cup? Will you be able to control them for so long?
Dunga – I am glad that you asked this question. I will tell you that what the Brazilian team will do in South Africa is something that the press has always asked of us. I am tired of hearing you journalists pointing out that the European teams are the ones that are right. So we are going to follow the path of professionalism, the modernism that they have adopted. I don’t want anyone complaining in Africa. This is a pre-warning. We will be just as or more professional than the Europeans in relation to everything. Mainly, in relation to the press. And I will say more: everything that you are accusing the Brazilian team of doing in Germany…
(interrupting) You mean parties, hanging out, partying until dawn during the world Cup…
Dunga – Yes…these things. I want to make this very clear so that you and everyone understand me. These situations came from the outside into the Brazilian team. This was not brought on by the players. They had the freedom and did nothing besides this. They cannot be accused of anything. What happened to the Brazilian team did not come from the team itself, from the players. There was order, freedom for this. Many of the accusations are unfair because nothing besides what was already agreed upon was taking place. Nobody escaped from the compound and went partying. It was allowed. With me it will not be allowed. Period. Everything will be transparent, agreed upon beforehand. I am direct. With me there will be no misunderstanding.
I get it. Parreira gave them this freedom. And you will not be so relaxed. Is that it?
Dunga – You are intelligent. You understand what I mean. Importantly: I am not accusing anyone in particular. I am talking about context. I don’t know at what point anyone, even Parreira, would have been able to impose certain limits. During former World Cups there were exaggerated freedoms and Brazil came back the winner. But times have changed. The physical preparation, the concentration, the focus has to be total. I don’t believe in slip-ups. I would like to say that spending the last three and a half years with the Brazilian team we played many official and friendly games. The commitment was clear; everyone who has worked with me knows what it means to be on the Brazilian team. And for the World Cup the dedication from everyone will be much greater.
Do you think that you will be able to control the players during this month of competition? And the parties after the matches? Will they be free to go?
Dunga – I will only repeat that the word commitment has a very clear meaning for me. The World Cup is for your entire life. The player who goes there knows what it means to dive into the World Cup head first and doesn’t think of anything else. I feel fine. The Brazilian team is protected from external factors. Even from the press. I repeat: we will do just as the European teams do. (Dunga did not clearly state this, but interviews will be restricted. Contact with journalists will be superficial and limited to collective interviews in keeping with FIFA demands. Nothing else. In Germany many of them would wait for the main TV news shows to begin. They would meet them at the compound. The coach already asked and obtained approval from the executives of the Soccer Federation that this will not happen next year. The compound will be sacred, only for players and coaching staff.)
Dunga – I have to board…
Just a few more, please. Do you know where in Africa Brazil will be staying before the World Cup? Angola? Mozambique?
Dunga – Look. No decision has been made in relation to this. I can only tell you what I told the president Ricardo Teixeira. We need a city that has a club just the same as the one that we will find in South Africa during the World Cup. I want a city with low temperatures, cold. And which is at the same altitude. The country will be defined by the CBF. We will have the best possible planning. I repeat: since before the World Cup the Brazilian team has been receiving European treatment, which I already stated. I am saying that now, in December, the players will have all the tranquility to work. If they have to be a little more isolated, as that Europeans that you and the press like so much, they will. I have to go…
Please, one last question, I promise. Many people at the CBF, beginning with the president Ricardo Teixeira, are enthused with your work. And also would like to keep you on board for the 2014 World Cup. Do you want to stay if you win the World Cup?
Dunga – I will be as clear as possible. I will not stay. Not even if we do win. There is no convincing me. I am a man of my word. My commitment with the president, Ricardo, and with the CBF ends with the World Cup. I know that the next world Cup will be in Brazil. But there is nothing in the world that will make me change my mind. It is an honour to be in the most sought after job in world soccer. To have the privilege to coach the Brazilian team. But this job demands a lot from a person. There is an enormous amount of pressure. And not just for the person in this position. It is pressure on your family, pressure on people that are important in your life. Four years is good enough. I feel that I have learned and am still learning a lot. And that, thanks to a lot of people beginning with Jorginho, I am able to complete the mission that president Ricardo gave me. I took over the discredited Brazilian team, coming from the flop in 2006 and I am sure that I am doing a dignified job. And it will continue like this until the World Cup. After this, my life will go on. I will not stay for anything. You can put that in print. I will not go back on my word…
Will continue as a coach or will you take on another title (for the Brazilian team), like coordinator?
Dunga – I will continue as a coach. This is my new career and I don’t want to change it. There is no reason for it. I will just not be staying with the Brazilian team. My decision has been made. I have to go now…(Federal agents quickly take him to the departure area for the plane to South Africa…)