Records set to tumble for Cafu

2006-05-24 07:47

Rio De Janeiro - A string of records that may never be beaten are likely to be set if Brazil end up winning the World Cup - and most of them will belong to their ageing captain.

Marcos Evangelista de Moraes, otherwise known as Cafu, will make history on a number of counts if Brazil are crowned world champions again when the tournament wraps up in Berlin on July 9.

While a sixth Brazilian victory would in itself be a new record - no other country has won more than three - it is the personal milestones that are beckoning for Cafu which catch the eye.

Assuming the 36-year-old fullback plays a full part in any victory, Cafu will become the first man to win the title twice as a captain as well as the first to play in four consecutive World Cup finals.

He will also join compatriot Pele as the only man to have won the title three times, exalted company indeed for Cafu, whose international career began way back in 1990.

Though there have been questions about his age by critics in Brazil who believe that he should make way for the younger, more dynamic Cicinho, Cafu has no doubt about his right to lead the squad.

And carping from the sidelines has only strengthened his sense of determination.

"Whenever you are criticised as a professional it makes you more motivated," said Cafu, who earned his nickname because his play was similar to Cafuringa, a famous Brazilian striker during the 1970s.

"I have had some injury problems over the last few months but I am fully recovered now and fit for the World Cup.

"It's been a difficult time but I managed to play the final part of the season for Milan and find my form again.

"The good thing was that I managed to come back well and I hope to arrive at my World Cup in good shape. Brazil is one of the favourites but there are others who are strong.

"I am not going to say we will win the World Cup but we have the players to do it."

While Cafu's longevity is explained by exemplary professionalism, he owed his place in the 1994 World Cup final to luck, coming on as a substitute after an injury to Jorginho in the 22nd minute.

After that he was a regular fixture in the Brazil team, winning the Copa America in 1997 and 1999 and playing in the disastrous 1998 World Cup final.

Luck again played a part in 2002, when he took over the captaincy from Emerson, who was injured in a freak training ground accident on the eve of the finals.

Cafu then hoisted the trophy after a 2-0 victory over Germany in Yokohama, celebrating the moment with a message to his wife - 'Regina, eu te amo' (Regina, I love you).

He has been entrusted with the captaincy ever since 2002 and now stands on the threshold of a place amongst the pantheon of World Cup legends if he can inspire Brazil to victory in Germany.

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