12 Jun 2014

Brazilian legend Pele says Neymar can't deliver World Cup to hosts

5:58 am on 12 June 2014

The Brazilian football legend Pele says current star Neymar is under too much pressure to deliver the hosts a sixth World Cup trophy.

Pele says the 22-year-old Barcelona player, who has scored seven goals in Brazil's nine successive friendly wins leading into the finals, is too young to be loaded with such expectations ahead of Brazil's opening game with Croatia in Sao Paulo tomorrow.

Pele's comments came despite the striker's impressive performances for the hosts at last year's Confederations Cup - the mini-dress rehearsal for the World Cup - in which they overwhelmed World Cup holders Spain 3-0 in the final with Neymar scoring a spectacular goal.

Pele, 73 and Brazil's record goalscorer with 77, says coach Luiz Felipe Scolari - who took Brazil to the last of their five World Cup trophies in 2002 - had succeeded in turning the team into an outstanding defensive unit, which had often been the weakness in the national side.

They have scored 30 goals and conceded just two in their nine consecutive victories since losing to fellow World Cup finalists Switzerland last August.