Brazil opens its soccer World Cup campaign against North Korea today with coach Carlos Dunga unconcerned about whether the team plays ugly to win a record- extending sixth title.
Dunga criticized journalists and commentators who’ve accused him of betraying Brazil’s famed Jogo Bonito, or beautiful play, since he became coach four years ago.
“Everybody has their own taste and preferences,” Dunga, captain of the 1994 championship-winning team, said in a pre-match press conference at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. “I really like winning, that’s all. It doesn’t matter whether someone likes you or not, what counts is what happens on the field.”
Dunga played in three World Cups as a player. He said that experience doesn’t make it easier to cope with nerves.
“I always feel butterflies in my stomach when I’m on field and my team goes out to play,” he said. “As coach, without a doubt, the pressure is tremendous. But at the same time when we are successful the joy we feel is double.”
Brazil has won the World Cup on every continent it’s been played previously. The last victory for the Selecao, as the team is known, came in 2002 in South Korea and Japan.
Dunga, 46, told reporters there were “no positives” from the negative comments he has received in recent months.
“I believe in freedom of expression but there should be certain limits of respect,” he said.
Japan and South Korea have already won in the tournament and Dunga said North Korea, playing in the World Cup for the first time since 1966, will be a tough opponent.
“They are no longer the weaker teams these days,” he said. “Eleven versus 11, whoever plays better will win. Football doesn’t lie.”
North Korea is the competition’s lowest-ranked team in FIFA’s list, 104 places below No. 1 Brazil. Portugal and Ivory Coast are the other nations in Group G.