Kolkata: A confident Paulinho, who has so far scored two goals in the group stages, said on Saturday that this Brazil side has the potential to win the coveted FIFA Under-17 World Cup and messages from senior members of the team only inspires them in that direction.
“It is a positive for us to receive messages like this. They have been in this competition before and some of them were champions. Some couldn’t win and now it’s our turn,” Paulinho told reporters on the eve of Brazil’s mouth watering quarter-final clash against Germany here.
“We have a team with great potential. It’s good to hear from them, their experience what they had in this competition. It’s not a pressure for us. The senior guys, (Gabriel) Jesus, Neymar and also Jorge are watching and supporting us,” he added.
“About my expectations, we are working with this goal to be champions. We are working since 2015 to prepare for this moment. We know that each match has different history. We have to go step by step. We cannot think of final here. We have to think of quarter-final first. But our main aim is to lift the trophy,” the 17-year-old Vasco da Gama wide midfielder said.
Paulinho, who is the first player born in 2000 to score a goal in the Brazilian Championship, said his inspiration is Real Madrid’s Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.
“My inspiration is Cristiano Ronaldo. He has a lot of ambition and always wants to be better. He is a really hard working guy,” he said of the 32-year-old Portugal captain.
Asked about his ambitions in Europe with teammate Vinicius Junior, not playing this tournament, set to join Real Madrid when he turns 18 next year, Paulinho said: “Right now we are focused in our game and in the competition. I am sure it’s an opportunity (to get noticed) for every player in this competition.
“It’s not a pressure for us as our minds are in our game. We take this as an opportunity. Whatever comes in the future will be a consequence of what we do here.”
Paulinho feels the possibility of playing in front of a packed house with over 60,000 spectators at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan will be a good experience, adding he hopes the masses with back his team.
“I have never played in front of 60,000 people. I have played in front of 40,000 where they were supporting other team (laughs). It was a good experience for my club in the senior team,” he said.
“This is a positive thing for us and could be an advantage for us. We receive this energy in a positive way and expect to give it back in a great way.
“The stadium is huge and beautiful. It will probably be full tomorrow. This is also the final venue. The feelings was the best possible because we are expecting to receive good energy from fans. We want to give it back to them and entertain them with our game,” he added about the colossal venue.
The final will be held here on October 28.
Mali down Ghana in World Cup quarters
Mali won the battle of West African giants, beating Ghana 2-1 in a bruising quarter-final of the Fifa U-17 World Cup here on Saturday.
Hadji Drame (15th minute) and Djemoussa Traore (61st) struck once in each half for Mali while Kudus Mohammed (70th) replied for Ghana through a penalty.
It was a replay of the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations final in Gabon earlier this year where Mali defeated Ghana 1-0 to win the continental title.
Mali maintained their dominance over their fancied rivals in a fast paced, physical encounter in pouring rain at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.