Brazilian Neymar in tears on the bench after right ankle injury

LUSAIL, Qatar — Neymar was pictured in tears on the Brazil bench after leaving his side’s 2-0 win over Serbia to start their World Cup campaign in Qatar on Thursday, after injuring his right ankle .

Brazil, who are aiming for a sixth World Cup trophy, will now have to wait between 24 and 48 hours to find out whether Neymar will play again at this year’s tournament, team doctors have said.

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Neymar was at the heart of an electric attack for Brazil as Tottenham striker Richarlison scored twice – including a superb second – but the Seleçao will now face a few days of nervousness awaiting more news on their star player’s fitness.

The Brazilian striker was fouled nine times throughout the match by a physical Serbian side and was substituted for Antony in the 80th minute after spending some time on the pitch at the Lusail Iconic Stadium following a hard tackle from Nikola Milenkovic.

Neymar was treated with ice packs by the team’s coaches on the bench and was seen limping towards the Brazil dressing room after the win.

In a statement to the media at the end of the match, Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said it was still too early to judge the severity of Neymar’s injury.

“Neymar has a right ankle injury, direct trauma,” Lasmar said. “Due to the impact of the Serbian player’s knee, we started immediate treatment on the bench.

“He is continuing with the physio, but now has to wait 24-48 hours for further evaluation. There is no MRI scheduled, but tomorrow we will do a further evaluation. We have to wait and cannot comment prematurely. .

“He felt that pain throughout the game but opted to stay on the pitch to help his team for 11 minutes after his injury. It’s remarkable that he did that.”

When asked if he had a replacement in mind, Brazil coach Tite said he still believed Neymar would play in Qatar again.

“He stayed for the two goals we scored even feeling his ankle injury because the team needed him,” Tite said after the game. “In both occasions and the occasion in which he was, who [was decisive], his ability to overcome pain. In both goals, he already felt it.

“You can be sure that Neymar will play the World Cup. I’m absolutely sure of that. He will play the World Cup.”

Later, Neymar posted a message on his Twitter account without any reference to his condition or injury.

“Difficult match but it is very important to get the victory. Congratulations to the team, first step completed… 6 more to go”, posted Neymar.

The 30-year-old was visibly distressed as he walked to the substitutes’ bench and appeared in tears before covering his face with his shirt.

Although no definitive prognosis has yet been made on the extent of his injury, the anxious wait for a diagnosis is reminiscent of the injury that forced Neymar out of Brazil in 2014, when a fractured vertebra after a challenge of Colombian Camilo Zuniga ended his competition at the quarter-final stage.

Neymar’s teammates are also worried about his fitness, with Antony saying: “It’s a worry, isn’t it? But we don’t know what happened yet. We know how bad he is. important, as a star.”

“The most important thing for us is to have him 100% for the next game,” Richarlison said.

Neymar is yet to win a major title with the national team, although he did help Brazil 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 behind Pelé’s goalscoring record.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.


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