Saturday June 28 2014

Brazil face Chile

TIME TO DELIVER: All eyes will be on Sanchez

TIME TO DELIVER: All eyes will be on Sanchez (L) and Neymar (top) as they feature in the first knockout game of the tournament tonight. photo by AFP 

By Mark Namanya in Brazil

The pretenders are gone. From 32, it’s down to the last 16. Here, there are no second chances. It is win or bust.
Brazil are aware, and so are Chile, their opponents in Belo Horizonte today.
Uruguay, without the banned Luis Suarez, have no room for failure when they play Colombia at the Maracana in Rio.
The first second round match is the most eagerly anticipated here.
Hosts Brazil have powered their way to the second round without really taking the breath away, typical of a Luiz Felipe Scolari-coached team.
If that is what they continue doing to win their first World Cup in 12 years, the fans will not care.
Chile are a dangerous opponent as outgoing champions Spain found out at the Maracana.
They have grown in confidence and are defending with discipline. Led by the experience of Alexis Sanchez, they will respect Brazil. But they won’t fear the side fueled by Neymar, Sanchez’s teammate at Barcelona.
It should be an intriguing match. The reality is that Brazil are favourites to reach the last eight.
But football has provided more shocking story lines. A Chile upset is not an impossibility, especially if Neymar’s supporting cast labour in the game.

Found guilty
The Uruguay-Colombia affair has been overshadowed by the nine-match, four-month ban Fifa meted out on La Celeste’s best player Luis Suarez after he was found guilty of biting Italian Giorgio Chiellini.
Uruguay will miss Suarez. The World Cup will be worse without Suarez’s glorious talent. But it is difficult to feel sympathy for the striker’s callous ways. It was a deserved punishment.
The challenge for Oscar Tabarez is to lift Uruguay out of their self-inflicted mess and emulate Colombia coach Jose Pekerman, whose team have scarcely missed injured talisman Radamel Falcao.
The focus for Uruguay is on Edinson Cavani, who has been poor despite the penalty against Costa Rica and assist against England.