Brazilian midfield star Kaka will be doubly keen to land World Cup glory with Brazil after admitting to a hit-and-miss first season with Real Madrid.sports Updated: May 28, 2010 00:37 IST
Brazilian midfield star Kaka will be doubly keen to land World Cup glory with Brazil after admitting to a hit-and-miss first season with Real Madrid.
Injuries and some tepid form have meant the jury is still out on the 65 million-euro signing from AC Milan, whose contributions, even when fully fit, have been less than spectacular.
As Kaka admitted recently: "I'm not happy with my performances, but it's all physical. I suffered a lot since I got injured.” The 2007 world and European footballer of the year has found goals hard to come by since swapping the San Siro for the Bernabeu and he has yet to show more than occasional glimpses of the form which brought him those lofty accolades.
Even so, he made a decisive strike in a 2-1 April victory over Zaragoza after six weeks out with a thigh injury and that enabled the club to stay in the title race with Barcelona, both clubs neck and neck going into the final furlong after both suffered Champions League disappointment.
In the end it was all to no avail as the Catalan giants held on to lift the title leaving Real and Kaka trophy-less for the year.
Despite such positive moments some fans have been less than impressed and many have shown typical displays of the impatience for which Real is famous and which — at board level — leads to managerial changes on a yearly basis.
So it was that whistles and jeers were aimed in his direction during Real's defeat by Lyon in the last 16 of the Champion March 10 - although he shrugged them off by saying he had lost count of the number of time he has been jeered. “They did it in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with Milan ... it happens to all players. The fans are very emotional.”
In promising better things for next season the 28-year-old - briefly the world's mosty expensive player until Real lured Cristiano Ronaldo from Old Trafford - now has to switch focus rapidly to the yellow, blue and green of Brazil.
With 26 goals in 73 internationals Kaka's goalscoring record compares more than favourably with Fernando Torres' 23 in 71 for Spain.
Now, though, Kaka has to show that he can cope with an even greater weight of expectation that that which has weighed somewhat heavily on his shoulders this season at club level as Brazil go for yet another World Cup success.
The man born Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite will be playing in his second World Cup finals - he scored in the group win over Croatia in 2006 in Germany but was unable to prevent a loss to France in the quarter-finals. However, the South African climate clearly sits well with him as Kaka shone brightly in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, scoring a brace against Egypt in a group game and he then starred in the final win over the United States.
Kaka, who has just recovered from a groin injury to take his place in the Brazilian squad, will to find his international form quickly as the Brazilians have been handed a potentially challenging draw. They will face Ronaldo's Portugal as well as top African side Ivory Coast and unknown quantities North Korea in what the Selecao's coach Dunga called "a very interesting group." Brazil will play a friendly match against Zimbabwe in Harare on June 2.