‘Brazil may struggle in 2018 but can excel in 2022 World Cup’

Doha, Nov 13 (IANS) Former Brazil football coach Sebastiao Lazaroni believes the current side will struggle in the 2018 World Cup but could finally come of age in 2022 when their “golden generation” matures.

Lazaroni, 65, who coached his country at the 1990 World Cup, is now in charge of Qatar Sports Club having led Brazil to their first Copa America win in 40 years in 1989, before bowing out in the first knockout stage to Argentina a year later in the World Cup.

Brazil suffered a heartbreaking exit on home soil in 2014 after being knocked out by eventual winners Germany 1-7 in the semi-finals and Lazaroni said the 2018 World Cup may come too soon for them to claim a record stretching sixth trophy.

“Another golden Brazilian generation is emerging with Neymar, Oscar, Lucas Moura, Philippe Coutinho, Willian, Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa,” Lazaroni was quoted as saying by www.sc.qa on Thursday.

“They will achieve full maturity as a group, with Neymar as leader, by Qatar 2022 and could win the country’s sixth World Cup title. I think Russia 2018 might come a bit too soon for them,” he said.

Neymar has scored 46 goals in only 67 appearances for Brazil and the 23-year-old will be 30 by the time the 2022 tournament arrives.

“According to statistics, Neymar is better than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when they were at a similar age. He will be at the peak of his technical process in Russia 2018,” he said.

“Players normally start reaching full maturity when they are between 26 and 28. In 2022, Neymar will be 30 and the complete package as a player. While he would still be a force to reckon with technically, he would be more mature than in Russia,” Lazaroni added.

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