Brazil must erase 1950 heartache: Cafu
Sao Paulo: Cafu, captain of the last Brazil team to win the World Cup, has urged his compatriots to put to bed the nightmare of their 1950 loss to Uruguay this year.
The trauma of a 2-1 loss in the trophy match 64 years ago before a 200,000 crowd, hangs over Brazil as they target a sixth World Cup triumph.
Cafu, born Marcos Evangelista de Moraes, told AFP in an interview that only winning this time will finally slay the 1950 demons. Brazil open the tournament on home territory against Croatia on June 12.
"If we do not win this World Cup then the spectre of 1950 will become that of 2014 and will haunt us until there is another World Cup here," he insisted.
Cafu was a member of the Brazil teams that won the World Cup in 1994 and 2002 and is the only player to appear in three finals, having lost in 1998 to France. He played a record 142 times for his country.
And Brazil are used to being the team to beat," said Cafu, who also played in the 2006 World Cup finals where they were eliminated by France in the quarter-finals.
"I do not think that the business of playing at home and the great expectations are a negative for the Selecao.
"Winning is always a great responsibility for Brazil -- but that is the case at home and away," said Cafu, now 43, who is acting as an ambassador for the World Cup.
"When they play away there is already great pressure on them, so imagine here! It`s normal for there to be pressure on a team which has won the title five times.
"But as they didn`t manage to win in 1950 finally the pressure is rising."
Cafu says Brazil will have to watch many rivals.
"All the teams can pose problems, all our rivals. You have to respect those who have already been world champions -- England, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain and Italy, who can certainly cause problems."
Cafu says defending champions Spain remain a threat.
"Spain are a great team. Many say they are in decline -- but I`m not so sure about that."
With social protests and strikes marring the final preparations for the World Cup, Cafu stresses social unrest is not just a Brazilian preserve.
"It`s not just Brazil -- there are demonstrations and mobilisations the world over. There are even countries at war.
"In Brazil, there are democratic demonstrations over matters which are good for the country. But it is sure that Brazil is more exposed right now -- the whole world is watching Brazil and that provides an echo for these mobilisations.
"But the World Cup is about to start and it will be a great World Cup. There will be demonstrations but we hope that will not be reflected on the pitch."
Cafu said that to protest is "a human right" but the players will just have to carry on.
"As well as being athletes we are citizens, this is a right. But we take to the pitch to play footbsll so that (the social unrest) must not influence the game," Cafu insisted.
As to whether the unrest and stadium construction delays will harm Brazil`s image, Cafu insisted: "We will overcome all of that. There are delays at all the Cup sites, that`s normal."
But, noting the media focus on protests he asserted: "I`d say there are those who are enjoying taking pot shots at Brazil.
"I want everything to turn out well. I insist, yes, there are some delays. But the work will continue.
"So let`s concentrate now on the World Cup and afterwards people`s demands will be directed at other topics -- security, education, health and transport, things which our country needs."
Asked whether FIFA had been right to award the 2014 tournament to Brazil, Cafu said simply: "I don`t work for FIFA so I can`t answer that."