RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari insisted his side were still a work in progress despite their Confederations Cup masterclass against world champions Spain on Sunday.
Scolari, the architect of Brazil's last World Cup victory in 2002, was the proudest man in the Maracana on Sunday as his remodeled team overwhelmed the fabled Spaniards 3-0 courtesy of two goals from Fred and a sublime effort from Neymar.
With the World Cup on Brazilian soil less than 12 months away, it was a result which will infuse Scolari's team with belief that a record sixth World Cup crown is there for the taking if all goes to plan next year.
A delighted Scolari however was more circumspect when asked to discuss the significance of his team's mesmerising display.
"We are still not a team that is complete, we know that we have a good group but we still have to prove a lot. But today, we embarked on the path to 2014," said Scolari, reappointed seven months ago for a second stint in charge.
"It was fantastic to hear the crowd singing 'the champions are back' but a long path stretches ahead of us. Yet I am sure people will now respect Brazil a little more."
"In the past 30 days we have beaten four former world champions in France (in a pre-event tune-up), Italy, Uruguay and now Spain," he remarked matter of factly.
Brazil began the tournament with the words of Pele ringing in their ears, with the legendary No 10 questioning whether Scolari's team were good enough to prevail.
Almost as important as the level of performance on the pitch was the re-bonding of Brazil's team with their fans, Scolari said.
"My team pay from the bottom of their hearts. We will now be working with a little bit more trust knowing we have the capacity and maybe rise above the level even of today's match," he told reporters, explaining he just wants "to set up a competitive team which can go for the title at the World Cup."
"I think we are improving, there is more trust and the supporters give it back and that is very nice. When we come together we become strong.
"Apart from the quality of all of our players we had the crowd behind us and I believe that is very important, that unity, that spirit.
The extent to which Brazil now can use the intervening 12 months to oil an even leaner machine in time for their first World Cup hosting since 1950 will be of fascination to students of the international game. – Agencies