Robinho relaxes on beach after hellish journey

October 14, 2008

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Brazil cancelled a planned training session on Monday after an exhausting journey back from their World Cup qualifier in Venezuela, which started with a three-hour bus journey along twisting mountain roads.

Goalkeeper Julio Cesar and forward Robinho headed for the beach in front of the team hotel in Rio de Janeiro as Brazil, who face Colombia on Wednesday, were given the rest of the day off.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said on its website the journey back from San Cristobal in western Venezuela after Sunday's 4-0 win took nearly 15 hours.

Brazilian media said problems began when the airport nearest to San Cristobal, from where Brazil were due to fly to Maracaibo for a connecting charter flight, was closed due to bad weather.

The squad was then driven for three hours over mountain roads to Merida, arriving at the airport at around midnight, only to be told that their plane was still in Caracas.

After a long delay during which they were served ham sandwiches and fizzy drinks in plastic cups, the squad were flown to Maracaibo and then on to Rio.

Brazil are likely to face a tougher task on Wednesday with Colombia expected to pack their defence.

The five-times world champions will also have to satisfy the notoriously fickle Rio de Janeiro crowd, who routinely start booing the team after half an hour if they are not winning convincingly.

"It's going to be difficult against Colombia, we have to be prepared, but with the support of the crowd, we can change this situation," said coach Dunga, whose team have suffered from ups-and-downs in the qualifying competition.

Dunga has lost two strikers for the game after Luis Fabiano pulled out through injury last week while his replacement Adriano, who scored against Venezuela, is suspended.

Instead, he is likely to field either Jo or Alexandre Pato alongside Robinho in attack.

"Jo has played in Russia, which is not easy, and is now in England. Alexandre had a meteoric rise and has returned to AC Milan with a new mentality," said Dunga.

"They will certainly be ready."