Brazil’s Neymar in tears on bench after right ankle injury

LUSAIL, Qatar — Neymar was pictured in tears on the Brazil bench after leaving his team’s 2-0 win over Serbia to start the World Cup season in Qatar on Thursday after suffering a right ankle injury had moved.

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

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Neymar was the focus of an electric attack for Brazil as Tottenham striker Richarlison scored twice – including a stunning second – but that Seleca will now have a nervous few days ahead as they await further updates on their star player’s fitness.

The Brazilian striker was subjected to nine fouls by a Serbia side throughout the game and was replaced by Antony in the 80th minute after spending some time on the ground at the Lusail Iconic Stadium following a tough tackle from Nikola Milenkovic.

Neymar was treated with ice packs by team 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 game, Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said it was too early to assess the severity of Neymar’s injury.

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

“He is continuing with physical therapy but will now have to wait 24 to 48 hours for a better assessment. There is no MRI scan scheduled, but we will do a new assessment tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and can’t make hasty comments.

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

However, when asked if he has a replacement in mind, Brazil coach Tite said he still believes Neymar will play in Qatar again.

“He stuck with the two goals we scored, despite suffering from his ankle injury because the team needed him,” Tite said after the game. “In the two chances and the chance he was in what [was decisive], its ability to overcome pain. He already felt it with both goals.

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

Neymar later posted one message on his Twitter account without reference to his status or the injury.

“Tough game but it’s very important to get the win. Congratulations team, the first step is done… 6 more to go,” Neymar posted.

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

While 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 following a tackle against Colombia’s Camilo Zuniga ended his competition in the quarter-final stages.

There are also concerns about his fitness among Neymar’s team-mates, as Antony said: “It’s a concern, isn’t it? But we don’t know what happened yet. We know how important he is, as a star he is.”

“The most important thing for us is that he’s 100 per cent there for the next game,” said Richarlison.

Neymar is yet to win a major title with the national team, although he helped 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 has twice fallen short of Pele’s goal record.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story. Brazil’s Neymar in tears on bench after right ankle injury

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