KEIR RADNEDGE in ABU DHABI: Carlos Alberto Parreira – adviser and counsellor to Luiz Felipe Scolari – was a happy man as he sat up in the VIP box at the Opening Match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Parreira, manager of Brazil’s winners of the senior World Cup in 1994, must have enjoyed watching the style, craft and ruthless finishing displayed by the juniors in their 6-1 dismissal of Slovakia in their Group A tie in the Mohammad Bin Zayed stadium.
Pre-match expectations for trouble had been built around Gabriel of Santos with domestic league experience to his credit. But he never moved any further than the substitutes’ bench. Instead, all the damage was accomplished by the Atletico Paranaense pair of Nathan and the appropriately-named Mosquito.
The latter buzzed inbetween the Slovak defensive lines to fatal effect and ended with a hat-trick to become the tournament’s instant leading scorer. He struck after 17, 31 and 70 minutes and also clipped a shot against the outside of keeper Martin Junas’s left-hand post shortly after half-time.
When Slovakia’s tormented defenders shuffled Mosquito into the blind alleys of play so they only left more space in which Nathan could work and the centre-forward struck with the last kick of the first half and then again in the 51st minute.
Midfielder Caio scored Brazil’s other goal in the 56th minute while Slovakia’s consolation was provided two minutes later, and with a thumping shot born possibly out of beaten frustration, by Denis Vavro.
Brazil could not have wished for a stronger or more intimidating start to their campaign to secure a record fourth under-17 crown after the three in 1997, 1999 and 2003.
For all their command it is highly unlikely that any of the players here in the UAE will be in Brazil’s senior World Cup squad next year. But Parreira may well pass on a memo that several may be worth reviewing when Brazil pursue Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.