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While You Were Asleep: Neymar reveals injury fear, Pele cheers for Brazil from hospital, Croatia will not surrender against Brazil, says coach

I thought my World Cup was over, says Neymar. Pele was cheering for his country's national team from the hospital. Dalic said his team's ability to recover from losing positions 'reflects the Croatian people.'

(L-R) Neymar on the pitch after the match as Brazil progress to the quarter finals; Brazil's players shows a banner in support of Brazilian soccer legend Pele; Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic (AP | Reuters)

Neymar scored his 76th goal, one shy of Pele’s all-time record for Brazil as they beat South Korea 4-1 and advance to the quarterfinals for the eighth straight World Cup.

After the match, the Brazilia forward revealed that he feared his World Cup is over after spraining his ankle two weeks ago against Serbia.

“I was thinking of a million different things,” he said.

“I was afraid of not being able to play in this World Cup again but I have the support of all of my colleagues, my family and I tried to look for strength where I could not find it. When I was reading all of the messages of encouragement, it helped my recovery.

“I didn’t feel anything on the ankle. “I think I played well, but there is always room for improvement.”

At full time, Neymar carried a banner with the Brazil legend Pele’s name on to the pitch.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” Neymar said.

“I wish Pelé the best. He will become healthier very soon, I am sure.”

Pele cheers on for Brazil

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Brazilian great Pelé cheered his country’s national team against South Korea from the hospital, where he is being treated for a respiratory infection aggravated by Covid-19.

“In 1958, I walked the streets thinking about fulfilling the promise I made to my father,” the three-time World Cup winner wrote on Twitter, alongside a photograph of a then-17-year-old Pelé.

“I know that today many have made similar promises and are also seeking their first World Cup. I’ll be watching the game from hospital and I’ll be rooting for each one of you. Good luck!”

Pelé is in hospital but one of his daughters has denied the 82-year-old is under palliative care.

Croatia won’t surrender against Brazil: Coach

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Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has made it clear that his team will not surrender against Brazil in the quarter-final of the FIFA World Cup.

The 2018 runners-up, and the smallest nation left in the tournament, prevailed 3-1 on penalties to deny Japan a first appearance in the last eight.

Six of Croatia’s past seven games in the knockout stages of a major tournament have gone to extra time and Dalic insisted it his team’s ability to recover from losing positions “reflects the Croatian people,” with a nod to a psyche the players forged growing up in a country ravaged by war as the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s.

“This generation is a resilient generation, it does not give up, and they reflect the spirit of the Croatian people who have been through so much pain. The Croatian national team brings so much pride and joy to our people. We give them faith in a better tomorrow,” he said.

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“We are a new generation of Croatian footballers, 18 were not at the World Cup in Russia, and I told them: ‘This is your chance to make history.’ We did it and the new players have their chance. I always say, do not underestimate the Croatian people.”

First published on: 06-12-2022 at 08:03 IST
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