Neymar on his way to SA

2014-02-11 17:22
Neymar (AFP)

Rio de Janeiro - Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has on Tuesday brought in two new faces but dropped AC Milan veteran Kaka in unveiling his Europe-based players to face South Africa in a March 5 friendly.

Scolari, architect of Brazil's 2002 World Cup success in Japan as well as last year's home triumph over Spain on the Confederations Cup, said he will call up three more home-based players ahead of the game in Johannesburg.

"I will take 19 or 20 (players)," said Scolari, revealing that he will add at least "two strikers and a goalkeeper" from Brazilian clubs to Tuesday's list of 16 names as he waits on the fitness of injured striker Fred.

"I need players in whom I can have complete confidence," said Scolari, who will name his full World Cup squad on May 7.

"If a player has my complete confidence I will wait. (Fred) is a fine person, a leader -- but we shall look to alternatives if need be," Scolari said.

Fred is nursing a thigh injury suffered last August which he aggravated last week.

The 30-year-old Fluminense striker scored five times in the Confederations Cup and dovetailed well with Neymar throughout the tournament.

Scolari explained he was unveiling his squad in two phases not least to give Fred more time to get fit with only two more friendlies to follow the South Africa game before the June 12 World Cup opener against Croatia.

Those games are to take place on June 3 and 6 but neither opponent has been confirmed, although Serbia are expected to be one.

The only goalkeeper on Tuesday's list, Julio Cesar, retains his slot as undisputed first choice shot-stopper despite not playing all season for English Championship side Queens Park Rangers.

The 34-year-old last week agreed a loan move to MLS side Toronto and Scolari said he hoped the move would work out well for the former Inter Milan star.

"He will do pre-season with Toronto and if he can get a dozen or so matches under his belt before the World Cup then so much the better," Scolari said.

The new faces are Bayern Munich defender Rafinha and Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho, with Scolari offering praise for both.

"Fernandinho is doing really well with City and getting himself noticed," while "Rafinha is working very well at Bayern," Scolari told reporters.

Up front, with Fred sidelined, the World Cup hosts are short of centre forwards and last year Scolari saw Atletico Madrid's Brazil-born forward Diego Costa elect to play for his adopted country, Spain.

Former Milan star Alexandre Pato is out of form and goalscoring duties will be borne, at least against South Africa, by Neymar and Zenit St Petersburg striker Hulk with Bernard of Shakhtar Donetsk providing back-up.

There was no place Tuesday for Lucas or Maxwell of Paris Saint Germain.

Chelsea provide three players in midfielders Oscar and Ramires and winger Willian.

Also Tuesday, Scolari offered condolences to the family of television news cameraman Santiago Andrade, declared brain dead Monday four days after he was struck by a flare during protests in Rio against bus fare increases.

Brazil squad to face South Africa (Europe-based players only):

Goalkeeper: Julio Cesar (QPR/ENG)

Defenders: Thiago Silva (Paris SG/FRA), David Luiz (Chelsea/ENG), Dante (Bayern Munich/GER), Dani Alves (FC Barcelona/ESP), Rafinha (Bayern Munich/GER), Marcelo (Real Madrid/ESP)

Midfielders: Paulinho (Tottenham/ENG), Fernandinho (Manchester City/ENG), Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg/GER), Ramires (Chelsea/ENG), Oscar (Chelsea/ENG), Willian (Chelsea/ENG)

Strikers: Neymar (Barcelona/ESP), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg/RUS), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR)


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