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Brazil`s players eager to get World Cup under way

Johannesburg: Brazil`s players are having a
hard time waiting for their turn to debut at the World Cup.

The opener against North Korea is still three days away,
and the Brazilians are eager to get on the pitch.

"We know we are ready," Brazil left back Michel Bastos
said yesterday. "If the match was today or tomorrow, we would
be prepared. We`ve been preparing for a long time for this."

Seeking its sixth world title, Brazil was one of the
first teams to arrive in South Africa and has been practicing
in the country for more than two weeks. The team will debut on
Tuesday against North Korea at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

"There is a lot of anxiety," Brazil midfielder Felipe
Melo said. "We have to admit there is a lot of anxiety. And
it`s growing. I wish we could have played yesterday."

The World Cup began Friday with two matches - host South
Africa drawing Mexico 1-1 and France drawing Uruguay 0-0.

Brazil arrives as one of the favorites to win the first
ever tournament in Africa after impressive results with coach
Dunga despite a team lacking players such as Ronaldinho,
Ronaldo and Adriano. Brazil won the Confederations Cup last
year and finished first in South American World Cup
qualifying. It also did well in high-profile friendlies
against England, Italy, Portugal and Argentina.

"The team is ready, but there is still some time left so
we can adjust whatever may be needed to adjust," Michel Bastos
said. "There may be a few things here and there, but we know
we are prepared."

There are only three practice sessions scheduled before
Brazil`s opener. Dunga closed yesterday`s afternoon practice,
marking only the second time that the coach kept the media
from attending the team`s training.

Brazil played only two warmup matches after arriving in
South Africa, picking lowly teams from the region. It defeated
110th-ranked Zimbabwe 3-0 in Harare and routed 108th-ranked
Tanzania 5-1 in Dar es Salaam.

Dunga has not officially announced Brazil`s starting
lineup for the match against North Korea, but he has practiced
with the same 11 since the team arrived in South Africa and
there shouldn`t be any surprises for the opener.

Brazil will then face the Ivory Coast on June 20, also in
Johannesburg, and then will close play in the tough Group G
against Portugal on June 25 in Durban.

The Brazilians acknowledge that they still know very
little about the team`s first opponent, the North Koreans.

"It`s hard to find anything about them," Felipe Melo
said. "But I`m sure the coaches are already preparing a video
on them for us."

With the World Cup under way, at least players are having
an easier time overcoming their anxiety.

"We are doing whatever we can to help the time pass,"
Michel Bastos said. "Now we can at least watch some of the
matches, it helps."

Bureau Report

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