PORT ELIZABETH - Brazil's Kaka has bowed
out of the World Cup for the second time in a row with the
frustration of failing to produce his best on the biggest stage.
Four years ago, the playmaker was in a star-studded albeit
overconfident Brazil side that failed to meet expectations and
were knocked out in the quarter-finals by France.
This time Kaka was given a much more prominent role but,
still battling for full fitness, was only able to provide
much-needed midfield inspiration in small doses.
Luck was also against him.
He was wrongly sent off in Brazil's second game with Ivory
Coast and denied when his curling shot in Friday's quarter-final
with Netherlands was brilliantly saved by Maarten Stekelenburg.
If his chipped effort had gone in, Brazil would might have
had a potentially decisive 2-0 lead before half time. Instead,
the Dutch fought back for a stunning 2-1 win.
Kaka came into the World Cup after an injury-plagued debut
season with Real Madrid.
Brazilians hoped he would peak at the right time and find
the form that saw him named World Player of the Year in 2007.
But, like the rest of his team, he showed only exasperating
flashes of his true potential, despite improving slowly as the
tournament wore on.
"There were moments when I didn't think I was going to make
it to the World Cup but my team mates gave me support and helped
me to keep fighting," he told reporters. "Only I know how much I
fought to get here."
"I wanted more, I wanted to get to the final, I wanted to
challenge for our sixth world title.
"We lost on the details, on two set pieces, and this causes
a feeling of pain and frustration.
"I know how painful it is for those who are suffering with
us and they can know that we are suffering as well."
Curiously, Kaka's most successful World Cup was 2002 where
he left with a winner's medal but played for only 20 minutes as
a substitute in the group game against Costa Rica.
The 28-year-old said it was too early to think about playing
in 2014, when Brazil will host the event.
"I don't know what's going to happen from here on," he said.
"It's a very difficult moment for me, in my career.
"It's still a long way off and this defeat is very recent.
At this moment, I have to reflect."
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