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Time for Kaka to deliver as Brazil face toughest challenge

June 19th, 2010


Kaka earns his 80th cap for Brazil against against Ivory Coast at Soccer City on Sunday with the pressure growing on the playmaker to show his doubters that his injury worries are behind him and he is ready to finally explode into action at this World Cup.

Even within the Selecao, patience with the 28-year-old midfielder appears to be growing thin with team-mate Robinho going so far as to offer his services in a creative role.

“I was out for a long time but I’m sure that I’ll improve as the tournament progresses,” promised Kaka.

The 2007 World Footballer of the Year managed 77 minutes in the hard-fought 2-1 victory over North Korea before being substituted by coach Carlos Dunga, who admitted that Kaka is still not yet ready to play an entire game.

“He hasn’t played a full 90 minutes in the last few months so we want to build him up slowly,” he said.

However, time is not on Brazil’s side as defeat to Ivory Coast would almost certainly set up a crunch winner-takes-all encounter in their final Group G match against Portugal on June 25 in Durban.

“I think that the Ivory Coast will be our toughest opponents because of the physical presence they have,” midfielder Julio Baptista said Friday in Johannesburg.

“The players play in Europe and they know our style of play.”

Baptista says he is ready to step in if Dunga decides to replace Kaka but feels the Real Madrid star is finally ready to shine after months of setbacks.

“His toughest time in rehabilitation is behind him. He’s in good form now,” he said. “He’s very calm and doing his best to give his all for the team. I’m convinced that he do everything possible to help us.”

The clash against the West Africans should be a much more open affair than Brazil’s slog against a defensively-minded North Korea in their opening game, a situation that could finally spark Kaka into life.

“We really rely on Kaka,” said veteran holding midfielder Gilberto Silva.

“He is the fulcrum of our team, the one who sets the rhythm.”

Author: Ulrike John

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