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Brazil wait on Neymar fitness as Tite hits out at Gabriel Jesus injury ‘lies’

Tite provided a positive update on the fitness of Brazil forward Neymar on Sunday (Andre Penner/AP/PA)
Tite provided a positive update on the fitness of Brazil forward Neymar on Sunday (Andre Penner/AP/PA)

Neymar could return for Brazil’s World Cup last-16 tie with South Korea but national team boss Tite launched a scathing attack on his own “haters” on Sunday for spreading fake news regarding the fitness of Gabriel Jesus.

An ankle injury saw Neymar miss group stage matches with Switzerland and Cameroon but he is back in training and will be involved in Monday’s knockout fixture if he comes through their final session with no concerns.

It is a different story for Jesus, who started Friday’s 1-0 loss to Cameroon only to sustain a knee injury which will rule him out of the rest of the tournament in Qatar following the results of a scan on Saturday.

Neymar (centre) has missed Brazil’s last two matches through injury (Peter Byrne/PA)

Asked during his pre-match press conference if Jesus already had an issue with his knee prior to the World Cup, Tite replied: “Thank you very much for your question because I don’t like hearing lies out there, evil lies. Those are the people who want to do bad things for others.

“At no time whatsoever do we play for victory at the risk or peril of a player.

“So the liar who is out there, because that is what we call them, that’s the name? The haters who keep giving hate, go and do something else and stop giving fake news.

“Arsenal has a great medical department, we have a great medical department and we are responsible. We are personally responsible and ethical and it would never have happened. I didn’t want this to happen. It is a shame.”

Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus’ World Cup is over (Adam Davy/PA)

Tite’s assistant coach Cesar Sampaio added: “Yes that’s important for us to clarify because Tite and (technical director) Juninho were specifically visiting Arsenal (in August) and at no moment were we made aware, not only them but as medical staff and I repeat what Tite said: we will never put health at risk for any result.”

Neymar, who saw his 2014 tournament cut short by injury, was one of those on hand to provide comforting words for Jesus.

The Paris St Germain attacker will be involved against South Korea on Monday if he proves his fitness.

“Neymar will practise this afternoon and if he practises OK, he will be playing tomorrow,” Tite said.

“The other 10 you don’t know who they are.”

Brazil made wholesale changes for their last Group G clash with Cameroon –  after already securing qualification – and despite defeat, captain Thiago Silva believes it was wise to let certain members of the squad rest up.

Silva said: “The Korea team will be more tired than Brazil but this is a World Cup. I am sure despite being tired, they are motivated and want to reverse the result of our last friendly match.”

Brazil inflicted a 5-1 defeat on South Korea in their previous meeting back in June but they will face a side brimming with confidence.

South Korea v Portugal – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group H – Education City Stadium
South Korea players celebrate after Hwang Hee-chan scored a late winner against Portugal (Adam Davy/PA)

Hwang Hee-chan’s stoppage-time goal helped Korea secure a shock 2-1 win over Portugal on Friday that sent them into the knockout phase.

While boss Paulo Bento is frustrated at the short turnaround between fixtures, he knows his side will give everything to produce another World Cup upset.

“There is nothing to lose, absolutely nothing to lose and only something to win,” Bento said.

“In my opinion I do not think it’s fair to play a match every 72 hours but we need to accept it.

“If that is FIFA’s decision, we need to understand and accept it. We also need to create the conditions for those that do not have them.

“It is difficult to play against such a great team in Brazil. In my opinion Brazil has the likelihood of winning the World Cup and if we add to this the burden we already have, our task obviously will be very difficult but, having said that, we will try and not give up.”