Cafu: Brazil have lost their fear factor

Former Brazil defender Cafu believes that his nation are no longer able to strike fear into the hearts of opponents after they bowed out of the Copa America quarter-finals.

The Selecao slumped out of the South American championships on penalties to Paraguay, only a year after they were demolished 7-1 by eventual World Cup winners Germany on home soil.

Cafu, who won two World Cups and a pair of Copa America titles during a glittering 16-year international career, believes that those chastening defeats have not only negatively affected the players’ confidence – but also their standing within the global game .

“[Brazil] are lacking commitment and desire. They lost respect. Due the football we’re playing the rivals no longer fear us,” the 45-year-old said at a press conference.

“We went through a transition period but Brazil will be a team that imposes fear again. Those who despise us may be surprised.”

The former Roma and AC Milan right-back commended Copa America hosts Chile ahead of their final against Argentina on Saturday, singling playmaker Jorge Valdivia out for special praise while at the same time warning La Roja about conceding chances to Lionel Messi.

“I like [Chile] very much. They are surprising, and reached where no one could imagine,” Cafu added. “Chile’s strength is the group, and [Jorge] Valdivia, who is in good form.

“The team knows their virtues and their limits. Today football is globalised, with players acting outside their countries. So there is an exchange of information, and this competition has shown that.

“To monitor Messi is almost impossible today. But Chile will not easily accept a defeat, even more playing here [at home]. They are in very good form, even more consistent than Argentina, who have a differential, that little piece called Messi.

“But it’s the final and anything could happen. A free kick, a bad pass or a penalty can define the game.”