Brazil vs. Italy showdown, Egypt also hope in wide open group

June 20th, 2009 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Pretoria, June 20 (DPA) When the draw for the Confederations Cup was made last year, Brazilian and Italian fans thought that by the time the two teams met in their Group B clash they would have safely made it through to the semi-finals.
So they thought.

But that was before Mohammed Hamos’ header five minutes from the break gave Egypt a historic 1-0 victory against the world champions Italy Thursday and blew the group wide open.

Ahead of Sunday’s final group games between Italy and Brazil at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and the United States and Egypt in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park, all four teams in the group still have a chance of advancing.

Brazil, who have two victories from two games, are sitting comfortably at the top and will still go through if they lose 1-0 to the Italians. They could even go through with a higher defeat, but would then need the result from the other game, which is being played at the same time, to go in their favour.

Italy and Egypt, who are both on three points, can guarantee a place in the

semi-finals if they win, but Italy would need to beat Brazil by two clear goals while the Pharaohs needs to win by five clear goals.

Should they fail to achieve those results, their progress will depend on the result from the other game and all three teams are in a position that they could even advance if they lose their final game.

And although the US, who are yet to secure a point, are theoretically in with a chance of advancing, it is something that nobody really expects as not only do they need to beat Egypt, they also have to make up six goals against the Italians.

The game between Brazil and Italy will be played exactly 39 years after Pele-led Brazil beat Italy 4-1 in the 1970 World Cup final in Mexico.

Defender Maicon said that the players were determined to beat the Italians and then to dedicate the victory to the 1970 winners, who have been nicknamed The Beautiful Team.

“We want to win the game and then we will dedicate the win to the team that played so well against Italy in the 1970 final.”

Brazilian coach Carlos Dunga is expected to rest some of his regulars, with Manchester City striker Robinho saying that he would accept any decision.

“Of course I want to play, but if the coach tells me to sit on the bench, I will sit on the bench.”

For Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro, the match will mark a personal milestone as he equals the Italian record of 126 caps currently held by Paolo Maldini.

Cannavaro, who was told after the Egypt game that his grandfather had died, at first wanted to fly back to Italy, but as the funeral was held on Friday, he would have missed it and he decided to stay with his team-mates.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said that the players go into the game against Brazil not fearing elimination.

“The Confederations Cup is not as important as the World Cup or the European Championships. It is a time for experiments. And for us the failure will not be in being knocked out, it will be if we do not play well against Brazil,” Buffon said.

For Egypt, who have twice already put in impressive performances, the game against the US offers them another opportunity to show the world how good they are.

Three days after becoming the first African side to defeat Italy, the Pharaohs could become the second African country after Cameroon in 2003 to advance to the semi-finals since the event features eight teams.

Goalkeeper hero Essam El Hadary, who kept the Italians at bay throughout the 90 minutes, is quietly confident.

“If we win, we can qualify for the semi-final,” he said.

For the US, meanwhile, there is very little else to play for but pride as nobody really believes in the miracle of a 3-0 defeat for Italy and a 3-0 win for them against the Egypt.

Coach Bob Bradley said that he was disappointed that his side had not done better.

“But we are looking forward to our World Cup qualifiers and this has been very good for our preparations,” he said.

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