Caribbean flair vs Brazilian artistry
FLASHES OF BRAZILIAN ball artistry and a mixed blend of Caribbean flair should unfold at the National Stadium tonight.
At approximately 8 o'clock FIFA referee Albert Allman will blow his whistle signalling the start of play as Brazilian soccer champions Sao Paulo, minus star forward Careca, confront a Caribbean All Stars team in a football friendly.
Star striker Careca is still in Brazil, as his contract, which expired on March 5, is still to be renewed.
Organized by Santos Football Club and sponsored by the Cigarette Company of Jamaica the match of similar styles should be welcome liquid for football thirsty spectators who are longing for a match of high quality.
Sao Paulo won the 1986-87 Brazilian Soccer Championship on Wednesday, February 25 beating Duarani 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out.
All round strength
Since then, Sao Paulo, competing in the four team Marlboro tournament in Miami lost out to Millonarios of Columbia 3-2 last Thursday but jumped back onto the victory track with a 1-0 win over another Columbian club De Portiva in the same tournament Saturday night.
DESPITE the absence of Careca, the Brazilians are strong allround with World Cup stars striker Muller, midfielder Silas, defender Oscar, and goalkeeper Gilmar heading the list of top stars.
Sao Paulo team Director Fernando Toledo, said his team has very little idea of the type of soccer played in Jamaica, or the Caribbean, but from reports he had received, Caribbean footballers played good football which should make tonight's encounter interesting.
"I am hoping that my club and our opponents will give us a nice game of soccer," said the seemingly enthusiastic administrator.
"We will be playing to win, but if winning is not enough, we also want to entertain."
Touching on Careca's absence from the team, Toledo said the scorer of five goals in the 1986
Mexico World Cup has been receiving many offers from Italian clubs, but Sao Paulo will be going all out to get his signature on a new contract.
"He is very important to us," Toledo said, "but the Brazilian Football Federation stipulates that all contracts end on March 5 and so far we have been experiencing a few problems coming to an agreement with Careca but we hope that everything will work out."
And Sao Paulo captain, Oscar, who speaks very little English, described Careca as "50% of the Sao Paulo team", adding that Careca scored 25 goals for Sao Paulo in the Brazilian Championship.
"We will miss Careca in this game," said Oscar, "but we still have some very good players who can fill that gap left empty by his (Careca) absence.
"Our younger players Muller and Silas have been doing a lot with the ball, and these two along with our number 5 (Bernardo) will be the men to watch."
Oscar said Sao Paulo will be forced to "experiment" and play a different format, what with Careca's absence.
On the other side of the fence, the All Caribbean squad, made up of nationals from Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dutch Antilles, and Jamaica have settled in well despite a communication (language) problem and coach Vernon Bell said the squad had come a far way, training together for only one week.
On parade will be top players from Trinidad and Tobago —midfielder Russell Latapy, captain of Trinidad and Tobago's 1986 Under 19 squad, midfielder 'Marvellous' Marvin Faustin, and defender Clayton Morris, forward Raymond Ravina of the Dutch Antilles, Haiti's Jean Matalier, a member of Haiti's historic 1974 World Cup squad, defenders Jean Cadet, and Gobels Cadet, in addition to many top Jamaican footballers.
Striker Paul 'Tegat' Davis, poised for a contract with an Israeli First Division club, will be out to impress, while team captain Howard Bell has indicated that this could be his last international match, and he will be wanting to bow out in style.
Coming to win
Coach Vernon Bell said his boys will be going out to win, but warned that victory will not come easy.
"We feel that it is very difficult to beat any Brazilian team, and this Brazilian team is no exception. We have found out that goalkeeper Gilmar has a few weaknesses, and the plan will be to get a few shots at him, which may unsettle him and allow us some goals.
"But the main thing is to play well, and although I don't like to depend on individuals, I am expecting players like Matalier, Faustin, Latapy, Morris, and Davis to do well."
Teams Sao Paulo (starting eleven, with shirt numbers bracketed)— Gilmar (goal), Jose Teodero (2), Oscar (3) (captain), Vaguer (4), Bernardo (5) — defence: Nelson (6), Silas (8), Pita (10) — midfield, Muller (7), Manu (9), and Sidney (11) — forward. Reserves are Fonseca, Neto, Le, Vizoli, and goalkeeper Jose Carlos. (Another player Romulo lost his passport in Miami Saturday night, and could arrive today, if he finds the valuable travel document.)
Caribbean — Devon Dunkley, Paul Sterling — (goal). Clayton Morris, Jean Cadet, Gobels Cadet, Frank Marshall, Marvin Fisher, and Dave Brooks (defence), Howard Bell (captain), Jean Matalier, Russel Latapy, Marvin Faustin, Leslie Creary — (midfield), Paul Davis, David Burgess, Raymond Ravina — (forward). Jamaican winger Kenneth Gavrini is the standby.
Before the match, former Governor of the State of Sao Paulo, Jose Mario Marin will present an award on behalf of the Brazilian Football Federation to Lorna Bell, widow of former Jamaica football coach Jackie Bell, in recognition of Bell's contribution to football.
The Military Band will entertain before the match, while Grammy Award winner Jimmy Cliff will sing the national anthems of Jamaica and Brazil before the match.
Admission costs — grandstand $40, bleachers $15 (advance), $20 at the gate.