Football: The dazzling new boys from Brazil

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The Independent Online
Assuming that the trite observation of the South Korean coach at the World Youth Championship can be safely disregarded, the future of Brazilian football lies in good hands. Or, better, with twinkling feet. "Brazil," according to Park Lee Chun, "have their weakest side in the history of the under-20s event."

Chun's opinion is highly questionable. So far this "weak side" have dished out a 10-3 drubbing to his Asian champions in the final Group B fixture, and scored another 10 goals, this time without reply, against Belgium, reducing in the process, the poor Belgian goalkeeper Francois Gillet to tears.

Pity, then, Cristian Munoz, the Argentine goalkeeper facing Brazil here tonight in the quarter-final which really ought to have been the final. Selected against England on Thursday in preference to regular first choice, Leonardo Franco, Munoz did well enough for the holders in their 2-1 win to keep his place. Whether he can keep out Brazil, ending their advance towards a fourth title, is another matter.

Argentina have, in Pablo Aimar, a player saddled with the "next Maradona" label, minus, one hopes, the seedy trappings. Brazil, on the other hand, possess in Adailton Martins - who prefers to go by the nickname of Adaio - a forward who models himself on Romario, who incidentally may be missing tonight from Mario Zagallo's senior side against Bolivia in the Copa America final because of injury.

The comparison between Adaio and Romario is logical. Far and away the tournament's top scorer, Adaio is slighter in physique but he possesses the same absolute mastery of the ball, deadly left foot and uncanny goalscorer's knack for being in the right place when the chance presents itself. Ten of those chances have been dispatched so far, six of them against the Koreans, four during one staggering nine-minute spell. At 20 he is a regular for Guarini, for whom he first played as a 15-year-old, in the Brazilian championship .

Up to three Belgian players followed Adaio around on Wednesday, the upshot being that he scored only once. With five other marksmen, Brazil did not exactly suffer. "They have four or five outstanding players but their strength is as a team," Gerard Houllier, the French coach, commented after his team's opening 3-0 defeat.

Beaten by Argentina in the final at Qatar two years ago and again in the South American championships last January, Brazil must overcome the psychological factor if they are to win today. Ideally, their coach Toninho Barroso should instruct his players to persevere with their natural attacking game. "Whatever happens, it will be a beautiful game," the Belgian coach, Ariel Jacobs, said.