With the clock ticking down to Sunday October 13 when Nigeria and Brazil clash in what is their second ever confrontation, excitement is already building up in the island city-state of Singapore, the venue for the epic clash.
The islanders have had a taste of Brazil five years ago. Sports Village Square gathered from the leading publication in Singapore, The Strait Times that a sellout crowd of 51,577 turned out at the National Stadium to catch Neymar’s dazzling tricks and flicks, as the superstar forward scored all four goals in the five-time world champions’ 4-0 friendly win over Japan.
The Singaporeans are expecting an encore as the four-time World Cup winners take on two African countries – Senegal and Nigeria.
According to the publication, fans will be able to catch Neymar and Co’s brand of samba football again.
Also, according to The Straits Times, being anticipated to be in action, are Nigeria’s duo of Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi and Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi.
Brazil, ranked second in the FIFA world rankings, will play Senegal (world No. 20) on Thursday October 10, before taking on three-time Africa Cup of Nations winner Nigeria (33) three days later.
It will be the first time Nigeria and Senegal will play in Singapore.
Brazil’s national team coordinator Juninho Paulista told the Brazilian Football Confederation website:
“We chose two of the best African teams because they are high-level confrontations and the Brazilian national team has had few encounters (with them) in recent years.”
Singapore Sports Hub chairman Bryn Jones said: “We are thrilled to host two matches of such international stature at our iconic National Stadium.
“This Brazil versus Senegal and Nigeria will be a treat for all football fans to catch some of the world’s most skilful players in action.”
Last month, The Straits Times reported that discussions were under way for Brazil to play Asean powerhouse Thailand here on Oct 11, but the deal eventually fell through.
But the Brazilians will be heading for Singapore after all, this time against two of Africa’s best sides.
Brazil’s first clash against Senegal may see Brazil’s Roberto Firmino and Fabinho come up against their Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane, with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly possibly also in action for Senegal.
The Singapore national team will not be involved due to World Cup qualifiers during that period, as the Lions travel to face Saudi Arabia on Oct 10 before hosting Uzbekistan at the National Stadium five days later.
Brazil fan Loh Zhang Yuan is relishing the return of the Selecao. The 21-year-old was at the 2014 game and has fond memories of watching his football idol Kaka in action.
He said: “There isn’t really a more iconic symbol of international football than the Brazil national team. They may not be as strong as a couple of decades ago but the flair of their team is always unique. To see them again live would be very special.”
National footballer and Warriors FC winger Gabriel Quak added: “It’s good for fans to have these international teams that are well-supported with superstars come here. Fans can see samba football and also the power and pace of African football.”
Former national swimmer and mixed martial arts exponent May Ooi may not be the biggest football fan, but she loves the Brazilians’ flamboyant playing style. She added that stars like Neymar will “leave a long lasting impression on a child” and would encourage them to stay in the sport.