A time out with my Brazilian friends in Russia

My 2018 FIFA World Cup experience in Russia is something that I will live to remember as the fun, excitement and the opportunity of hanging out with fans from across the continent that specifically came to cheer their country to glory is still such an amazement.
As I arrived St. Petersburg on 18th June after spending four days at Kaliningrad, at my hotel were fans from Argentina, Brazil and Egypt.

What shocked me the most was that the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina was far beyond what we read on the pages of newspapers or online.
To my surprise, the Argentina and Brazilian fans were not getting along with each other and every one for was for himself.
The Brazilian fans had wished that Nigeria defeated Aregentina and were so sad that we lost to their greatest rival. In fact, they praised our boys for putting up a good fight and blamed the referee for not awarding Nigeria a deserved penalty that could have see the Super Eagles progressed to the round of sixteen.
We started discussing about the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, a Brazilian professional league for men’s football clubs contested by 20 clubs; it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B.
The Campeonato Brasileiro is one of the strongest leagues in the world; it contains the most club world champions titles, with 10 championships won among six clubs, and the second-most Copa Libertadores titles, with 17 titles won among 10 clubs.

The company of Lucas Leung, an die-hard fan of SC Corinthians, Lucas Rocholli, a fan of SE Palmeiras and Brono Infanger of Sao Paulo FC made me and my fellow colleagues in the hotel felt very much at home, at least we saw people we can relate effectively wand discuss football matters feely and passionately.
We started discussing about the Brazilian league and when I mentioned Santos FC, a team that has produced famous players like: Pelé, Carlos Alberto, Robinho, Neymar, what I heard was amazing.
“Santos is now a team for the old people today is a team of the elderly, you only few supporters. They had more supporters when Neymar was still playing,” said Lucas Leung.
We went further wither our discussion and I asked can Neymar succeed Ronaldihno as Brazil legend?
“Neymar has the quality is enjoying media hype, but I think he still behaves childish and falls often and will need two to three years before he can win the Ballon D’ Or award, excepts if Brazil win the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“We have some young players within the age range of 17 to 19 years in the Brazilian league who are more talented and skillful than Neymar, but we have to see a little bit more of them.”
They argued that been the Worlds’ most expensive player could be the reason he still plays the way he is playing.
“But Neymar has the potential to be the best player, but he needs to be cool headed and be more matured, maybe been the World’s most expensive player.
“Ronaldo Delima, the phenomenal would have been five time FIFA player of the year if not for his knee injury and would have won the award three or two three times more, Lucas Leung added. He got the injury in the best years of his career. A footballer career is between the age of between 26 to 30 years, Ronaldo got injured inbetween this age.

We went further and discussed Robinho, “Robinho lost his agility after he left Real Madrid and that affected his career,”
“Brazil has a kind of physical preparations that the players are used to, but by the time the players get to Europe, and with a new muscular physical training, the like of Pato, Robinho and Ronaldinho were not ready for that. That is also affecting Neymar’s style of play,” Lucas Leung mentioned.


I mentioned Real Madrid’ Marcelo, who has played for over a decade for the Spanish giant and still very active.
“Marcelo plays in different position; you have to me more physically strong as a striker to have a longer playing career in Europe,”said Lucas Leung.
The Campeonato Brasileiro is the most-watched football league in the Americas and one of the world’s most exposed, with top clubs like; Corinthians with worth over $532.7 million and over 4 million fans. Palmeiras raked in $480.1 million and Gremio valued at $320.9 million with broadcast in 155 nations. It is also one of the world’s richest championships, ranked as the sixth most valuable with a worth of over $1.43 billion, generating an annual turnover of over $1.17 billion in 2012.


Anthony Nlebem, reporting from Moscow/Russia

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