Brazil striker Neymar asks for a break after a failed play against South… (Nelson Antoine / Associated…)
Brazilian soccer fans let their men's national team know that a 1-0 victory over South Africa in an exhibition match just won't do.
The fans, accustomed to watching a dynamic, attacking style that few nations have been able to match decade after decade, booed their team Friday night and in particular their young star, Neymar, who was roundly jeered when he went to the sideline late in the game for a substitute.
For their part, the players were upset with their fans' harsh critique during a win.
"We all know that we did not put in a great performance, but we still managed to win the game," Neymar said. "I was very disappointed that the fans were booing us. I do not ask the fans to like me, but I ask them to cheer for the national team."
Brazil, which will host the World Cup in 2014, was able to pull out the victory when Hulk scored in the 76th minute.
"When you are playing at home you would expect to have the support from the fans, but that's not what happened, unfortunately," Brazil defender Daniel Alves said. "If we had the fans behind us everything would have been easier, but that's not the mentality here. We have to understand that and just keep doing our job."
Fans' discontent, related in part to fans' loyalties to the club teams for which Neymar and Alves play, mainly has been aimed recently at Coach Mano Menezes, particularly after Brazil failed to win the gold medal at the London Olympics, where they fell to Mexico in the final. The Summer Games tournament is the only international competition that Brazil hasn't won.
"It hurts a little bit for this to happen here," Menezes said. "This is not new but we have to try to change this perception. We will be playing the World Cup here at home and it will be a lot easier if we have the support from the fans. We know the moment is not good, but we need their understanding."
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