Kaka says off-field issues could hurt Brazil

SAO PAULO - Kaka, left, says Brazil will have to be extra focused during their preparations for the 2010 World Cup if they want to have a shot at winning their sixth world title next year in South Africa.

SAO PAULO - Kaka, left, says Brazil will have to be extra focused during their preparations for the 2010 World Cup if they want to have a shot at winning their sixth world title next year in South Africa.

The Real Madrid playmaker said Brazil needed to take advantage of the practice time they will have just before football's biggest showcase gets under way next June.

"We will need to use the two weeks we will have before the World Cup to practise properly, to gain tranquillity and to think about getting focused," he told the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper in its weekend edition.

"It's going to be key for the team to arrive with winning chances."

He said there is a need to avoid the off-field issues that many blamed for the team's early departure from the 2006 World Cup, when they fell to France in the quarterfinals.

The team's preparation at the lakeside resort town of Weggis, Switzerland, was marked by a partying atmosphere that players say was detrimental to the team's focus.

"Many things can happen during a competition and we can win or lose," Kaka said.

"But if we prepare well, we will be able to arrive with a lot of strength."

Kaka believes Brazil are in the toughest World Cup group, along with Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea. He said Portugal will likely give the Brazilians the hardest time.

"Portugal is the most difficult team among our first opponents," he said.

"They are a group of special athletes. They will fight for the title."

Kaka will likely face Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, a meeting he said will be "special". -Sapa-AP

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