DOHA, Qatar (AFP) – Brazilian superstar Neymar underwent tests and received treatment at the team’s hotel on Friday after injuring his right ankle in the opening match 2-0 win over Serbia. The team did not give any details about the extent of his injury.
Neymar injured his ankle in the second half of a tough match against Serbia on Thursday. He was crying while sitting on the bench and after the game he limped off the field on his way to the locker room.
“A difficult match, but the victory was important,” Neymar said on his social media accounts, shortly after leaving Lusail Stadium, without speaking to the media. “Congratulations team, the first step has been taken. Six more things left.”
In an Instagram story after the match, Neymar posted a text that mentioned the need to “believe”.
“It is about believing that everything will be fine despite the chaos. It is certain that the best is yet to come. Understanding that everything has its own timing,” the text says.
Brazil coach Tite had already expressed optimism about Neymar’s condition.
“You can be sure that Neymar will continue to play in this World Cup,” he said after the match. “I’m sure about that.”
Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said after the match that it was too early to tell the extent of the injury. He said that they started treating the injury as soon as Neymar left the field and continued after the match.
And he replaced Neymar in the 79th minute, about 10 minutes after he injured his ankle, while Serbian defender Nikola Milinkovic saved him.
Neymar had been attacked several times before during the match, and was seen limping and flaking on several other occasions. He was fouled nine times, the most by a World Cup player after the first round of the group stage.
“We will remain optimistic, it is the characteristic of this team,” said Alisson, the Brazil goalkeeper. “These adverse conditions will only make the group stronger.”
Brazil’s next match is on Monday against Switzerland. The five-time world champions ended their campaign in the group stage against Cameroon on 2 December. Brazil leads Group G along with Switzerland, which opened with a win over Cameroon.
If Neymar can’t play, his replacement is likely to be Rodrigo, who came on as a substitute in the second half against Serbia on Thursday.
The 30-year-old Neymar was also injured at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when his tournament ended with a back injury in the quarter-finals against Colombia. He had to be taken off the court on a stretcher, and Brazil ended up losing to Germany 7-1 in the semifinals.
Neymar’s right foot caused him problems in the past, as it was among a series of injuries he had suffered since the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Another sprain in his right ankle led him to miss the 2019 America’s Cup, which Brazil won.
The 30-year-old has yet to win a major trophy with the national team. He helped the Seleção win the 2013 Confederations Cup and their first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
With 75 goals for the national team, he is two goals shy of Pele’s goalscoring record.
Another player who sprained his right ankle on Thursday was defender Danilo, although Lasmar said his injury was not serious.
Hekayat Azzouni on Twitter:
AP World Cup coverage: f