Forget about the pressure and responsibility of having to win the World Cup at home. To Luiz Felipe Scolari, coaching Brazil in Brazil is the perfect job.
Scolari knows that anything but the World Cup title will be considered a failure, but he could never pass up on the chance of lifting football’s most coveted trophy in front of the home crowd at the Maracana.
“Some say that I’m a populist, but we are playing at home, we have the fans on our side and a team which is competitive and has a lot of quality,” the outspoken Scolari said. “We have everything that allows us to be the best team. That’s why I fully trust that we can make it to the final and be the champion.”
Already a World Cup-winning coach, Scolari said he was not nearly as confident before the 2002 tournament, when Brazil won its fifth title.
“Now I’m playing in Brazil, in front of my people, I have the 12th player (fans) on my side,” said Scolari, voted among the top 10 coaches of 2013. “If I can’t say that we are good, that we have a lot of quality and that we have good players, then there’s nothing I should be doing here.”
It was thanks to the 2002 World Cup title that Scolari became internationally recognized. But his career hit highs and lows after that. He thrived with Portugal at the 2004 European Championship and the 2006 World Cup, then failed at the club level with Chelsea and Brazilian club Palmeiras.
When it became clear that former Brazil coach Mano Menezes was not doing enough to gain the support of the country’s tough fans, federation president Jose Maria Marin didn’t think twice before bringing back the popular Scolari in late 2012.
“We needed to shake up the national team, the World Cup is a completely different tournament,” Marin told TV Bandeirantes.
This will likely be Scolari’s last World Cup. Although the 65-year-old coach hasn’t made any official announcement, he has said in the past that his goal was to coach in Brazil and then retire.
“I wouldn’t accept to coach Brazil if I didn’t think I could win the World Cup,” Scolari said. “I took the job because I’m 100 per cent sure that I will win the World Cup with Brazil.”