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Diniz: Players Unburdened in Neymar's Absence

 Diniz: Players Unburdened in Neymar's Absence

Brazil's defender Marquinhos (L) talks to coach Fernando Diniz
Brazil's defender Marquinhos (L) talks to coach Fernando Diniz during a training session in Teresopolis, Brazil, on November 15, 2023, ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualification football matches against Colombia and Argentina, on November 16 and 21 respectively(Image-Getty) 

Coach Fernando Diniz emphasized that no player in Brazil should feel the burden of replacing the sidelined Neymar, who is recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus, ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Argentina.

Despite the absence of the 31-year-old captain, Diniz expressed confidence in the young and talented team, discouraging the idea of singling out a new hero. "Nobody has to worry about taking over Neymar's role. We have an extremely talented generation," Diniz assured reporters, urging the players not to bear the weight of expectations and allowing them to naturally take center stage.

Highlighting potential standouts in Neymar's absence, Diniz mentioned players such as Barcelona's Raphinha, Real Madrid's Rodrygo and Vinicius, as well as Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus.

In a surprising move, Diniz called up 17-year-old prodigy Endrick, recently crowned in the Copa Libertadores, to play for the five-time world champions for the first time. Diniz emphasized Endrick's merit and enormous future potential but cautioned against expecting too much from the young talent. "He could become one of those legendary players in Brazilian football, but time will tell," Diniz remarked about the Palmeiras forward, set to join Real Madrid in July.

As Brazil currently stands third in the South American qualifying group, level on seven points with second-placed Uruguay and fourth-placed Venezuela, Diniz expressed confidence in the team's capabilities. The squad faces Colombia on Thursday and world champions Argentina on Tuesday in a bid to secure their spot in the upcoming World Cup.

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