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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK

Brazil hit the jackpot

By Phil McNulty
BBC Sport Online, Yokohama

Brazil's superstars revel in the image of free spirits inspired by the rhythms of samba and the joy of the carnival but the real secret of their World Cup success can now be revealed.

It is nightly games of bingo played at their Japanese hideaway.

It is difficult to imagine the hearts of Ronaldo or Rivaldo leaping at the mention of two fat ladies, or indeed the words "eyes down look in".

But the relaxed atmosphere around the Brazilian camp has been put down to the bonds forged over the bingo cards, and friendly rivalries emerging from video games played in their hotel.

Brazil's flamboyant and highly-efficient media officer Richard "Ricardo" Setyon let the state secret slip when quizzed about how a traditionally volatile group maintain their equilibrium as expectation rises at home.

Bingo is a major feature of their relaxation, along with a golf video game in which Ronaldo, a regular golfer away from the football pitch, is a regular loser on the computer version.

Ronaldo has apparently taken time out from his quest for the Golden Boot to teach Roberto Carlos the art of the golf swing via the video but his own game has suffered in the process.

And Brazil are enjoying their stay in the Land of the Rising Sun so much it is now being captured on video.

Several members of the party have armed themselves with video cameras to keep a record of what they hope will be a triumphant World Cup campaign.

Brazil coach Felipe Scolari has also attempted to provide maximum relaxation for his players by ensuring they have their own rooms for the first time at a World Cup.

It has paid off so far, and the easy atmosphere was reflected again when Brazil staged an open training session for the world's media at a small club ground in Yokohama.

It is all part of a deliberate ploy to bring accessibility and relaxation to the camp, Scolari and his cohorts believing this is the atmosphere in which the natural Brazilian spirit flourishes.

Brazil's players then handled the media scrum that has followed them around Japan with consummate ease, dressed casually and stylishly in team colours but with the added flourish of flamboyant silver slip-ons provided by their sponsors.

Ronaldo and Rivaldo will hope that the silver slip-ons turn into the Golden Boot in the World Cup Final against Germany in Yokohama on Sunday.


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