at the National Stadium in Dar Es Salaam. A Kaka strike and two more from substitute Ramires rounded off the scoring for the Selecao, but the home side caused their illustrious opponents a number of early problems and can take great pride in their performance against a team ranked over 100 places above them.
Brazil coach Dunga had insisted that this match was about “getting prepared, not competing” and continued with his first choice eleven with Julio Cesar the only exception; the Inter man trudged off after 25 minutes with a lower back injury in Harare against Zimbabwe on Wednesday and Heurelho Gomes took his place between the posts. Michel Bastos had been the only other injury concern after he picked up a slight ankle injury in training last week, but the Lyon winger recovered comfortably to take his usual place in the starting line-up.
Tanzania may have taken some solace in the Selecao coach’s assurance that his side wouldn’t be “going at 100 percent” today and, just as Zimbabwe had done on Wednesday, went straight for their distinguished counterparts from the outset, making all the early running.
Robust full-back and captain Shadrack Nsajigwa got the crowd going early on with a handful of Maicon-esque marauding runs down the right flank, displaying great vigour, if not much prosper, but young Mrisho Ngassa was the real stand-out performer of the opening stages.
The 21-year-old Tanzanian centre-forward intelligently positioned himself on the right wing, goal-side of Brazil’s unnatural left-back Bastos. He exploited the space well and forced Lucio to head just wide of his own goal before twice nipping around Juan and should have done better after finding himself one-one-one with the giant frame of Gomes; he was quickly made to pay for his poor finish when Brazil sailed up the other end to take the lead on ten minutes.
Kaka blocked a pass from a pass from Kelvin Yondan, naively attempting to play his way out from the back, and released Robinho who calmly placed his finish across Tanzania ‘keeper Mohammed. The goal brought a small sigh of relief for the visitors and lead to widespread inquisition within the Brazilian ranks. Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo exchanged a few words, as did centre-back pairing Juan and Lucio. Their main talking points, no doubt, were Abdullahim Hamoud, who was enjoying too much freedom in the middle of the park and, of course, Ngaso.
Brazil’s first corner came 20 minutes in, by which time Tanzania had earned five. Ngaso and company were enterprising, but ultimately lacked the quality of an end product to cause any real alarm among Dunga’s men. Brazil were still at a canter when Robinho grabbed his second on 34 minutes. Bastos, finding himself in a more comfortable position further up the field, effortlessly stroked in an inviting cross for the Santos man to nod home from inside the six-yard box.
The half-time break had seemed to take all the sting out of the industrious Tanzanians and Brazil could have had three within the opening five minutes of the second period. Robinho and Luis Fabiano went close before Kaka seemed to lose the flight of an Elano corner underneath a flailing Mohammed, heading the ball into the ground and over the bar from no more than two yards.
Though Brazil wouldn’t have to wait too long for a third. Second-half substitute Ramires charged through the middle after receiving a neat pass another recent introduction, Josue, before firing his left-footed shot past Mohammed. The game had quickly descended into a stroll for the Selecao.
Kaka, Maicon, Fabiano and Robinho all went close as the Tanzanians tired, though Ngaso managed to retain his early enthusiasm and nearly pulled one back with 25 minutes left; skipping away from Gilberto, who had replaced Bastos during the break, his low shot brought a fine stop out of Gomes.
Kaka made it four with 15 minutes remaining, using his chest to convert a looping Maicon cross before the home side finally got the goal they deserved. Substitute Jabir Aziz was left completely unmarked to head the first goal Brazil had conceded since their 2-1 defeat to Bolivia in October last year. The consolation was little more than Tanzania deserved, although Ramires still had time to grab his second and Brazil's fifth with a fine header in the final minute.
In the build-up to today’s fixture, captain Lucio had conceded "we can avoid some risky plays when needed,” accentuating Dunga’s point that today was more about physical preparation than performance. And while the scoreline may be slightly flattering for Brazil, their second-half performance was typically assured. Dunga will also be delighted to see Kaka complete 90 minutes without any trouble. With their opener against North Korea in just a week's time, Brazil are as ready as they’ll ever be.
Highlights from Brazil's 5-1 victory over Tanzania can be seen here.
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