Brazil's Tite hopeful on Neymar World Cup return
Brazil's Neymar greets the supporters after the World Cup group G football match between Cameroon and Brazil, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, December 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

DOHA, Qatar, (AFP) — Neymar is in line to return from injury for Brazil's last-16 World Cup clash with South Korea on Monday but will need to prove his fitness first, coach Tite said.

The 30-year-old superstar forward suffered an ankle injury in Brazil's opening win in Qatar over Serbia and then missed the last two group matches.

"Regarding Neymar, he's going to train this afternoon and if he's OK, he will play tomorrow," said Tite on Sunday.

It is not the news Korea's Portuguese coach Paulo Bento was hoping for.

"We would be hypocrites if we said we prefer playing against Neymar," said Bento.

"That would be a lie, we prefer him not to play but honestly speaking, I always prefer the best players to play."

Bento complained about the quick turnaround between the last group stage match on Friday and Monday's last 16 clash.

Unlike Brazil who rested most of their first choice players having already qualified after two games, Korea had to fight to the last minute of their 2-1 win over Portugal to make it into the knockouts.

"After the physical tiredness from the previous games there is also the emotional fatigue after the Portugal game," said Bento.

"I decided to let the players rest yesterday and we only trained this morning.

"Of course that's a burden for teams. It's an additional burden compared to Brazil ... who changed the line up for their last game: they did something we couldn't do in the last game."

Meanwhile, Tite had harsh criticism for those that accused him of taking an unnecessary risk with Arsenal forward Gabriel Jesus, who was injured against Cameroon and will miss the rest of the tournament.

Some local media said that Jesus arrived at the World Cup carrying a knock which Tite knew about when picking him from the start to face the African side on Friday.

Brazil had already qualified for the knockout rounds and lost 1-0.

"I don't like hearing lies, evil lies from people who want to do bad things to others," fumed Tite.

"At no time do we play for victory at the risk of a player. The liars, the haters who keep giving hate should go and do something else and stop giving fake news.

"Arsenal have a great medical department, we have a great medical department.

"This never happened and I would never let it happen."

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