Brazil football hopes pegged on Big Phil

Luiz Felipe Scolari, known simply as “Felip?o” – ‘Big Phil,’ in English – will be named Brazil’s new football coach.

Rio de Janeiro – There are a few things in this world that should be on everybody’s ‘do before we die’ list. Machu Picchu. Petra. A safari in Africa. Drifting down the Amazon. Angkor Wat. I don’t know, take your pick.

Some might say add to that list watching a Brazil World Cup game, in Brazil. That’s where I was on that fateful day in 2010, sandwiched in a sweaty mob thousands of people in downtown Sao Paulo.

We were all glued to the movie screen projectors showing the Brazil-Netherlands game of the 2010 World Cup. It was just the quarter finals, so a tune up for the semis. Or so we thought. Brazil lost.

Everyone walked away like zombies, drunk with complete disbelief. Really, we lost in the quarterfinals, to who? Is this for real? Short answer: Yes. It was not a pretty sight.

I remember walking away back to the metro station when some random guy I had never met looked over and said, “A national shame! This better not happen in four years!”

By ‘four years’ he meant the 2014 World Cup, being held in Brazil. That felt like such a long way away back then. Now, it’s right around the corner.

If the Brazilians thought playing the Netherlands in 2010 in Port Elizabeth was pressure, it’s nothing compared to playing the Netherlands in Rio de Janeiro in 2014.

The Brazilians Football Federation (CBF) knows it. And with a national team that still looks to be sputtering – playing anything but a beautiful game – there is a major shakeup expected to be announced on Thursday.

Luiz Felipe Scolari is his name, but he’s known simply as “Felip?o” – That’s ‘Big Phil,’ in English and he’ll be named coach on Thursday. And it’s looking like Carlos Alberto Parreira will be announced as ‘technical coordinator’ – sort of a super assistant coach position.

It’s a two-headed dragon the CBF hopes will slay everything in sight. It’s a blast from the past. The last time Brazil won the World Cup, the fifth, was 2002 and Felip?o was the coach.

The no non-sense, straight-shooter isn’t loved by everybody, but he was the last person to win on only stage that matters. And that’s good enough. If one World Cup winner isn’t enough, Parreira coached the Brazilian national team to the World Cup championship in 1994 with Romario and Bebeto.

He’s an old hand, having also coached the Brazilians again in 06, as well as national teams in 82 with Kuwait, 90 with the United Arab Emirates, 98 with Saudi Arabia and 2010 with South Africa. Yes, 2014 seemed like an eternity back in 2010.

But then this week someone at CBF looked up, saw the calendar, then glanced over at the panic button, and decided to press it. Hard. Dear Big Phil, boa sorte.

If you thought the vuvuzelas rattled your head, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Follow Gabriel Elizondo on Twitter @elizondogabriel

More from Features
Most Read