Scolari: Harmonious Brazil will win World Cup

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil will win the World Cup in South Africa because the squad have the same strong bond as their 2002 title-winning side, former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.

"I fully believe that Brazil will be in the final and will win that final," said the former Chelsea manager, who steered Brazil to their record fifth title in Japan and South Korea.

"From what I'm told by some players and some people in coach Dunga's staff, the atmosphere (in the squad) is very similar to that of the national team in 2002," Scolari told Reuters in an interview.

"And people see that in the competitions and games that Brazil have played. It's a great advantage for Brazil to win another World Cup," he said from Tashkent where he coaches Uzbekistan club Bunyodkor.

The 61-year-old Brazilian built what came to be know as the "Scolari Family" for the Asian World Cup after they flirted with failing to qualify for the first time in 2001.

Scolari supported Dunga in his efforts to keep a committed group of players even if he has to leave out big names that the media and fans clamour for.

Just as in 2002, when Scolari resisted pressure to call up Romario, the striker who was a key member of Brazil's 1994-title side in the U.S, so Dunga has left Ronaldinho out of his squad for the last scheduled warm-up against Ireland in London next month.

"Dunga built a reasonably new Brazil team, he had its command, there was friendship, he created an atmosphere and I know how important it is to have such an atmosphere in the national team because you can achieve much more than you imagined," Scolari said.

"What I have to say to Dunga is to continue his work as he is doing it," he added.


After two successive World Cups, having steered Portugal to fourth place in the Germany finals four years ago, Scolari is tempted to accept at least one of the invitations he has had to South Africa to commentate for a Brazilian or Portuguese television broadcaster.

His two former teams, Brazil and Portugal, clash in their final Group G match in Durban on June 25 and he is sure they will have both secured their berths in the knockout phase by then.

"With the two qualified I won't need to support one or the other," said Scolari, who gave debuts during his time at the helm to the two countries' top players, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Scolari named Brazil's arch-rivals Argentina as one of the favourites in the tournament despite Diego Maradona's difficulties as their coach.

"I don't know why it's on my mind, but if Argentina sort out their team just a little, if they get a definite organisation, I think that with (Lionel) Messi and (Carlos) Tevez, who is playing very well, they could be one of the big surprises of the World Cup," he said.

Portugal, whom he steered to second place at Euro 2004, should at least be able to repeat their fourth-place finish of 2006, added Scolari who holds a record of 11 successive matches unbeaten at World Cups as a coach - seven with Brazil and four with Portugal.

Scolari said he had quickly got over his sacking by Chelsea midway through last season and had only good memories of his time in the Premier league.

"I would say today that, really, the best championship in the world is the English. I watch games and they are spectacular," he said.