When the referee pointed to the spot in the 93rd minute of Brazil's opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 against Egypt, and with the score locked at 3-3, Kaka had only one thing on his mind. The Brazil No10 showed no hesitation, immediately making his way to the spot before placing his strike past goalkeeper Essam El Hadary and into the bottom corner to secure all three points at the Free State Stadium in Mangaung/Bloemfontein.
That defining moment underlined that Kaka is more than ready for the responsibility his ever-growing status within the Seleção demands. "I think that my attitude today is what people expect from me in the national team," the Real Madrid new boy told FIFA.com after the game.
Assuming Brazil qualify, the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ will be his third appearance at the finals. A world champion at Korea/Japan 2002, though his was a peripheral role, he was a starter at Germany 2006 in a team overloaded with household names like Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu and Ronaldinho. The Brasilia-born midfield ace is now a leading figure in Dunga's side, a duty which seems to come naturally to him.
"Yes, I'm now a leader within the squad. Definitely not the only one, but one of several. It's a role that I take in my stride as it's a natural progression, it's not something that was forced upon me. It is to be expected that more senior players such as myself, Gilberto Silva, Lucio or even Robinho should take on more responsibilities," said the midfielder. "As for the crucial penalty against Egypt, for example, I'm used to those situations from my last few seasons at AC Milan, so it's only natural that I should perform a similar role for the national team."
It's a role that I take in my stride as it's a natural progression, it's not something that was forced upon me.
Aside from the South American Zone FIFA World Cup qualifiers, which are spread out over two years, the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 is Kaka's first international competition with the Canarinha since being crowned FIFA World Player of the Year 2007.
"Playing in the Confederations Cup is a great opportunity ahead of the 2010 World Cup, and as long as we remain strong in adversity like against Egypt, I think we'll be on the right track," said Kaka as the interview concluded. "We tried everything we could to get the winner after they came back to make it 3-3, and in the end we secured the three points. In a short tournament with decisive matches, that's all that matters."