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Neymar back in Brazil training after foot
injury fears ahead of Costa Rica clash

SOCHI Russia (Xinhua) -- Superstar Neymar was back in training for Brazil on Wednesday after tweaking his ankle the day before, allaying fears he could miss their second World Cup Group E clash with Costa Rica on Friday.

In a video posted on the Brazilian soccer federation’s Twitter page, Neymar is shown taking a full part in a training match and showing no ill-effects of the foot injury.

The video was accompanied by the caption: “Neymar’s working in the training session in Sochi on Wednesday! Preparation continues for the second round of the World Cup.”

The Brazil star missed Monday’s training, the day after he was fouled 10 times during a 1-1 Group E draw with Switzerland.

Although the Paris Saint-Germain forward emerged for Tuesday’s workout, he only lasted a few minutes before seemingly injuring his ankle.

After taking on Costa Rica, Brazil will complete Group E actions by facing Serbia.



Desailly slams Neymar’s ‘individual play’

By sportswriter Michael Place MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Former France captain and World Cup winner Marcel Desailly has accused Brazil star Neymar of playing for himself to the detriment of his team.

Neymar failed to impress in Brazil’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their World Cup opener on Sunday, having seemingly been targeted for rough treatment by the European team. The 10 fouls he suffered was the most for any player in a World Cup match since Alan Shearer in 1998.

“We saw Brazil were in difficulty in their draw against Switzerland,” said Desailly in an article for the Guardian. “They have this great capacity for dribbling, of course, it’s in their blood, but there was too much individual play and not enough for the team.”

Desailly, who played in Les Bleus’ 3-0 victory over Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final, said Neymar was responsible for stalling Brazil’s movement against the Swiss, making them predictable and easy to close down.

“Neymar gave off the impression he was playing by himself,” the former center-back and defensive midfielder added. “Whenever the ball came to him he slowed the game down, irrespective of whether it was the right thing to do or not. Because he knows he has the talent to change games, you get the impression Neymar wants to be the one to do that something special.

“But he has to understand that it’s not like that at international level. He might be the greatest player but you have to think of the collective. You have to think of your teammates and play with them, using one-twos and triangles to move forward and make those differences. The one time he did that, down the left with Marcelo and Coutinho, brought about Brazil’s goal. But that was not enough.”


Morocco coach Herve Renard ‘proud’ of hard working team

By sportswriter Michael Place MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Morocco coach Herve Renard heaped praise on his players after the team’s 1-0 defeat to Portugal here on Wednesday, a result that all but guarantees the African side’s World Cup elimination.

The European champions went ahead through an early Cristiano Ronaldo header but Morocco dominated large periods of the match and had 16 shots on goal compared to Portugal’s 10.

“I’m not disappointed. I’m very happy with the performance,” Renard told a news conference after the match. “I’m very proud, we all are. It might sound strange but that is the feeling in the group.”

Wednesday’s result came after an Aziz Bouhaddouz own goal gifted Iran a 1-0 victory over Morocco in the teams’ opening group match.

A victory for Spain against Iran later on Wednesday would eliminate Morocco from the tournament, regardless of the result of the Africans’ clash with Spain on Monday.

Renard suggested that Ronaldo’s goal should have been disallowed because of a perceived foul by Portugal defender Pepe moments earlier.

“Have a look at the corner-kick when Ronaldo scored and look at what No. 3 [Pepe] did,” Renard said. “Do your own analysis and write the truth.

“A foul should have been seen. A corner kick should have been awarded. If I criticize referees I will be criticized or sanctioned. So the only thing that you should write is that we are very proud of the performance. We will finish with Spain and we hope to do that with flying colors.

The Frenchman said the team had come a long way since he replaced Badou Zaki as national coach in February 2016.

“The one thing I’m sure of is that Moroccan people are very proud of their team,” he said. “Two years ago we started a new adventure. We were ranked 81st in the world and I think that now we are 41st. We qualified for a World Cup for the first time in more than 20 years. We showed that we can play football but it’s true that we haven’t been effective in the end [here].”

Renard bemoaned his team’s inability to convert chances into goals, both against Iran and Portugal.

“It’s a lot easier when you have a goalscorer,” he said. “But we have high quality players. We should have been more effective. Just like in the first game we had lots of scoring opportunities. That’s what happens in football. Those who know how to play in the penalty area and those who are most gifted make a difference.

“We didn’t score the goals we could have. But playing in this stadium. It felt like we were playing in Casablanca. Some people drove all the way to Moscow and I’m sure they are proud of the team.”



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