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Brazil still ‘work in progress’

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LONDON, England, September 6 – Brazil coach Mano Menezes admits his side are still a work in progress after Leandro Damiao’s first half strike secured a 1-0 win over 10-man Ghana.

Damiao got the only goal at Fulham’s Craven Cottage with a clinical finish as the five-time world champions took advantage of extra space in the Ghana defence following Daniel Opare’s dismissal.

Opare was sent off by English referee Mike Dean after fouling Brazil captain Lucio and the red card was the inevitable result of Ghana’s aggressive approach, which eventually produced six bookings.

Menezes’ side were always in control, but couldn’t turn their possession into further goals.

While the Selecao coach was disappointed not to have won by a more convincing score, he believes the experience of taking on a competitive outfit like Ghana will stand his players in good stead at the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil are hosting the tournament in three years time and Menezes is gradually building a new-look squad, with the likes of Damiao — who opened his international goal account against the Ghanaians — Neymar and Ganso and Fernandinho given the chance to shine.

“We still need to work because we are getting a new generation of players coming through and they don’t know what it is like to play in internatiional competitions,” Menezes said.

“We are going to try to build up little by little. I know we have experienced players and less experienced players and I know there will be a lot of pressure when we host the World Cup but I dont worry about that.”

Menezes is confident the experience of grinding out wins against teams like Ghana will be invaluable when it comes to playing in pressured environment of the World Cup.

“Someone asked me why we played Ghana and I said you have to play different styles of games and against different opposition to see what you are going to get in the World Cup,” Menezes said.

“One goal makes such a difference. Sometimes we need to win games not playing so well because you can’t always win emphatically.”

Menezes was forced to make an early change when midfielder Ganso, limping off to be replaced by Elias, became a casualty of Ghana’s fierce tackling.

The opening stages were notable for some brutal challenges, with Opare shown the yellow card for a crude hack on Neymar and team-mate Derek Boateng following him into the book for another cynical foul.

Damiao thought he had given Brazil the lead midway through the first half when he ran onto Neymar’s pass and lifted his shot over Kwarasey, but the effort was ruled out for offside.

Ghana’s rudimentary approach to tackling backfired in the 34th minute when Opare was sent off after catching Lucio on the ankle as he miscontrolled the ball and lunged to regain possession.

Dean decided the foul was worthy of a second booking and the distraught Opare had to be led off the pitch by Ghana skipper John Pantsil.

Even then Ghana weren’t prepared to back off and Jonathan Mensah was booked for another unnecessary foul before Brazil took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Fernandinho, taking possession just inside the Ghana half, was the provider with a defence-splitting pass that picked out Damiao and the forward kept his composure to steer a fine low finish past Kwarasey.

Brazil were able to play in first gear after the break thanks to their numerical advantage, with a Ronaldinho free-kick and a Alexandre Pato header their only chances.

Ghana’s attempts to kick Brazil out of their stride continued and Lee Addy was booked for crunching into Neymar, while Samuel Inkoom was also shown the yellow card by the over-worked Dean.

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