World Cup: Brazil Dedicate Victory to Ailing Legendary Striker Pele

World Cup: Brazil Dedicate Victory to Ailing Legendary Hitman Pele (News Central TV)

After strolling to a 4-1 World Cup victory over South Korea, Brazil’s players paid respect to the legendary Pele, who is currently receiving medical attention in a Sao Paulo hospital due to his deteriorating condition.

The players raised a sizable banner in honour of the 82-year-old, who is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, after Monday’s last-16 encounter at Stadium 974 in Doha.

Before Paik Seung-ho’s consolation in the second period, Brazil had already put the match to bed thanks to goals from Vinicius Junior, Neymar, Richarlison, and Lucas Paqueta in the first half.

“It’s hard to talk about what Pele is going through right now but I wish him all the best,” said Neymar, who made his return from an ankle injury to play most of the game.

“I hope he will be back in good health as soon as possible and that we could have at least comforted him with the victory,” Neymar told reporters.

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Neymar Jnr

The players are motivated to try to win a record-extending sixth world title since Pele, who was a member of the first three, is fighting colon cancer.

“He needs a lot of strength from us and this victory is for him, so that he can come out of this situation and that we can be champions for him,” said Vinicius. Brazil had a massive boost with Neymar’s return, and they started the game very strong.

Neymar got within one goal of Pele’s record 77 goals for Brazil with his penalty kick goal in the 13th minute.

However, he acknowledged that there had been times when he had wondered whether his World Cup would be finished after getting hurt in Brazil’s opening game against Serbia.

“When I got injured I spent a very difficult night. I was thinking of a million different things,” said Neymar, who added he had been “crying a lot”.

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“I was afraid of not being able to play in this World Cup again but I had the support of all my teammates and my family who gave me strength.”

Richarlison paid tribute to the team’s talisman, saying Neymar’s very presence on the pitch makes the game easier for everyone else.

“I’m very happy about the return of Neymar. On the pitch he drags away two or three players creating space for the others,” said Richarlison, who now has three goals in the tournament.

“Neymar provides a competitive advantage, he makes the difference on the pitch — he’s the driving force,” added assistant coach Cesar Sampaio.

Richarlison also complimented coach Tite’s choice to rest nearly the whole first squad in their last group stage encounter, a 1-0 loss to Cameroon, even though they were already guaranteed to advance to the knockout stages.

“We played with intensity from the first minute and that was because we rested a part of the team in the last match, so you have to give credit to the boss,” said Richarlison.

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All 26 players on the team have already seen action at the tournament thanks to Tite’s many substitutions, with even backup goalkeeper Weverton playing the final 10 minutes against Korea.

“The game was practically over when I came on, but no goalkeeper likes to concede a goal,” he quipped.

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