Brazil Coach Rogerio Micale has leapt to the defence of striker Neymar before his country’s decisive game against Denmark at the Rio Olympics.
The Barcelona star has been criticised for his mediocre performances and lack of leadership, with Brazil facing an embarrassing elimination from the tournament on home soil, but Micale says Neymar deserves to be shown some respect.
“Neymar will one day become the best player in the world and we need to respect him,” the 47-year-old told a Press conference.
“He is young and I know that sometimes he behaves in a way we might not agree with, but at his age wouldn’t we do the same things he does, having everything he has?
“If we don’t respect our best players they might not want to be with us anymore.”
Brazil have been held to scoreless draws by South Africa and Iraq, with Neymar barracked by fans in the latter as they chanted the name of women’s star Marta, who has been flourishing at the women’s tournament.
Neymar has also been blasted for not taking a more active role as one of the team’s more experienced players, declining to talk to the media after the Iraq game.
“Marta and Neymar are two great Brazilian players,” continued Micale. “Neymar is just 24 and hasn’t fully matured.
“Generally, a player reaches his peak at 28, both physically and mentally, and he has had to deal with the pressure of being a leader since he was 17 years old.
“We only need a single victory to reach the next round and remain alive in our fight for a medal.
“We must stay calm, trust ourselves, and things will be different when the ball starts to go in.”