Brazil star Neymar sounded upbeat early Friday despite injuring his right ankle in the side’s World Cup opener. The player celebrated the victory over Serbia and looked forward to the remaining games in Qatar.
Neymar sprained his ankle in the second half of Brazil’s 2-0 win at Lusail on Thursday. He sat on the bench in tears and hobbled off the field on his way to the dressing room after the game.
The team hadn’t released an update on Neymar’s condition as of early Friday afternoon.
“Difficult game but it was important to win,” Neymar said on his social media accounts shortly after leaving the Lusail Stadium without speaking to the media. “Congratulations, team, the first step has been taken.
In an Instagram Story after the game, Neymar posted a text mentioning the need to ‘have faith’.
“It’s about believing that despite the chaos, everything will be fine. It is the certainty that the best is yet to come. It means understanding that everything has its own timing.”
Brazil coach Tite had already expressed his optimism about Neymar’s situation.
“You can be sure that Neymar will still play in this World Cup,” he said after the game. “I’m sure.”
Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said after the game it was too early to assess the extent of the injury and that Neymar’s ankle would be re-examined on Friday. He said they started treating the injury when Neymar left the field and continued treating it after the game.
Neymar was substituted in the 79th minute, around 10 minutes after injuring his ankle in an attack by Serbian defender Nikola Milenković.
Neymar had already been tackled many times during the game and was spotted making faces and limping on a few other occasions. He was fouled nine times, the most by any World Cup player after the first round of group stage matches.
“We remain optimistic, that’s characteristic of this team,” said Brazil goalkeeper Alisson. “These adverse circumstances will only make the group stronger.”
Brazil’s next game is against Switzerland on Monday. The five-time world champions complete their group stage on December 2 against Cameroon. Brazil lead Group G along with Switzerland, which opened with a win over Cameroon.
If Neymar is unable to play, his replacement would likely be Rodrygo, who came on as a second-half substitute against Serbia on Thursday.
Neymar, 30, was also injured at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when his tournament ended with a back injury in the quarter-finals against Colombia. He had to be carried off the field on a stretcher, Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in the semifinals.
Neymar’s right foot has caused him problems in the past as it is among the injuries he has sustained since the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Another right ankle sprain caused him to miss the 2019 Copa América, which Brazil won.
Neymar, 30, has yet to win a major title with the national team. He helped the Seleção win the 2013 Confederations Cup and their first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
With 75 goals for the national team, he is twice behind Pelé’s record scorer.
Another player with a sprained right ankle on Thursday was defender Danilo, although Lasmar said his injury was not serious.
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This story was originally published Nov 25, 2022 4:16 am.