Footbal: World Cup - Brazil play down loss

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BRAZIL'S COACH, Mario Zagallo, is still confident his team will win the World Cup, dismissing Tuesday's 2-1 defeat to Norway as just one defeat on the way to the title.

But the defending world champions' weaknesses were put on clear display for other teams, including Saturday's second-round opponents Chile, to study. The loss by Norway showed that, when faced by a massed defence, Brazil quickly run out of ideas. Equally clear is the vulnerability at the back, where the central defender Junior Baiano is looking to be the weak link.

The former Werder Bremen player was turned inside out by Tore Andre Flo for Norway's equaliser, just as he was by Claudio Lopez for the goal that gave Argentina a 1-0 win over Brazil in a friendly in April.

The defender, whose reputation for rash challenges and red cards is a constant worry for Brazilian fans, then gave away the controversial penalty which led to Norway's winner. The thought of the shaky defence facing the Chilean striking partnership of Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano is worrying for Brazil.

Zagallo, who has been involved in all of Brazil's previous four titles as either player (twice), coach (once) and assistant coach (once), was determined not to be downhearted by his side's third defeat this year. Both he and the players pointed out that Brazil had already qualified and did not have to win and that they had been given a lesson which needed to be learned.

The team took a good 45 minutes to emerge from the dressing-room after the match and their words appeared to have been well rehearsed. "We lost when we could afford to," Zagallo said. "This was the right time to lose. We can't lose in the next stage. This was a lesson for us that we must not relax. The team felt they had won the game and they lost concentration. It can't happen again."

Zagallo described the team's performance as satisfactory even though their lack of inspiration in midfield was startling. The hugely gifted Rivaldo routinely picked up the ball, moved forward a few steps, put his foot on it and then flicked it square. Denilson was as ineffective for the most of the game.

The service was so bad that Ronaldo barely got a look in - and he complained about it afterwards. "I'm not worried about not scoring," he said. "What worries me is that the ball is not getting to me as it should be."