Brazil goalkeeping coach Claudio Taffarel taking nothing for granted at World Cup

Taffarel won the World Cup in 1994 and is now part of the coaching team looking to get the Samba Stars their sixth global crown.
Updated 11 June 2018
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Brazil goalkeeping coach Claudio Taffarel taking nothing for granted at World Cup

  • Taffarel knows what it takes to win a World Cup having lifted the trophy in 1994.
  • Brazil now more expressive than during Dunga's reign as boss.

MOSCOW: At the last World Cup Germany registered the most perplexing result in football history, battering the spiritual owners of the game, Brazil. Joachim Low’s team thrashed the hosts 7-1 in the semifinal to leave a nation 
in tears. 

“It was sour, it was really a strong blow that Brazil and Brazilian football in general suffered, but one that has been digested and that unfortunately can’t be erased,” Claudio Taffarel, Brazil’s goalkeeping coach and 1994 World Cup winner told Arab News. “The 7-1 that Brazil suffered at the hands of Germany is very much part of the statistics. You live with this trauma. The past was negative, but today it is positive. We have to think positively.” 
Brazil’s new coach Tite has rejuvenated Brazil after the years lost under the Carlos Dunga regime. Tite, appointed in 2016, modified his predecessor’s defensive and counterattacking style to play a more expansive game. Real Madrid’s Casemiro, shielding the defense, and Gabriel Jesus, with his daring pace in the 
final third, have become key figures in Brazil’s 4-1-4-1 system.
“They began playing with Tite’s ideas and from there the results followed,” said Taffarel, who has been a part of Brazil’s backroom staff since 2014. “It was the manner in which he approximated himself to the players, you know, how he talks with the players, how he transmits his ideas to the players. That coach-player, player-coach language is very important, there has to be an understanding. The players understand what Tite does.” 
Brazil’s passage to Russia came about thanks to topping the South American World Cup qualifying table, but Tite’s merits transcends results. He restored Brazil’s ball-playing tradition, valuing process and performance over the scoreline.
“To win you need to be prepared. Afterwards, on the field, it’s logic that you have to deserve it, in the sense of playing with the ideas that he transmits during the week and on the eve of the game and in line with the opponent. If you get all that and play good football, the merit comes, and that means so will the victory,” Taffarel explained.
In March, Brazil defeated their 2014 nemesis, Germany, in Berlin courtesy of a first-half header from Jesus. The Germans did not field the injured Manuel Neuer, Samuel Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, but Brazil looked accomplished. The five-time world champions are among the favorites in Russia.
“Whenever Brazil go to the World Cup we’re considered a favorite, like Germany, Argentina, Spain and teams who have won in the past,” Taffarel acknowledged. “It is dangerous if Brazil doesn’t prepare well, it is dangerous when we think it is going to be easy. That way it becomes dangerous. But that favoritism doesn’t affect us. The favoritism has to be created during the World Cup, in the group stages by playing well, with determination.”
Neymar is Brazil’s marquee player, but the squad is strong across the board. In the goalkeeping department there are Roma’s Alisson and Manchester City’s Ederson; both men are considered world-class.
“When Brazilian football was looked at, everyone was looking at the No. 10, the man who scored, the striker,” Taffarel said.
“Football has begun to change a little. Football is valuing the goalkeeper more. Today, when you look at (Pep) Guardiola’s team, they always have a goalkeeper who plays well with his feet. The Brazilian school has all this, it is technical with the feet, with the arms. Now, this is being valued.”
Alisson is Brazil’s undisputed No. 1. In October 2015, he made his international debut against Venezuela, on the recommendation of Taffarel.
“Alisson, you know, from the moment he started playing at Roma, he has enjoyed a natural growth and that we all expected, because in Brazil he had already shown his potential,” Taffarel said.
“He always showed that in the Brazilian team as well. For us, it is very important, for the Brazilian goalkeepers it opens a lot of doors in Europe, when they are spoken of well. Ederson has an impressive potential.”
Together they are dealing a knee-high tackle to the perception that Brazil do not produce top-class keepers, something that has always annoyed Taffarel.
“It is a myth,” he said. “When I began playing for the Seleção in Italy in 1990 they were saying ‘Ah, now Brazil has a goalkeeper.’ I moved on. Then Dida came and they went ‘Ah, now Brazil has a goalkeeper.’ Now it is Alisson and now they will say ‘Ah, now Brazil has a goalkeeper.’”


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 November 2018
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Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”