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Dunga may rotate talented squad in group games

Dunga may rotate talented squad in group games

With plenty of quality players to draw from, Brazil should be able to get out of a tough World Cup group that includes Portugal, Ivory Coast and the comparatively unknown threat of North Korea.
Brazil coach Dunga, a pragmatist who refuses to bow to reputations, has made this Brazil squad his own in a nation where the entire population wants to select the team for him. His policy is to go to South Africa with 23 players who will come back with the trophy rather than win friends with flashy football.
First up for the five-time champions is a game against the North Koreans at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The North Koreans beat star-studded Italy at the 1966 World Cup and then led Portugal 3-0 in the quarterfinals before losing 5-3 after a Eusebio-inspired comeback.
But Dunga has strength throughout his squad, including experienced goalkeeper Julio Cesar, talented defenders Lucio, Maicon and Daniel Alves, midfielder Gilberto Silva and forwards Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano and Adriano.
Assuming Brazil earns three points from the North Korea game, Dunga should be able to rest some players against Ivory Coast at Soccer City on June 20.
The Ivorians have their own talented players, including forwards Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, and brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure at the back. But their task has been made tougher since the dismissal of coach Vahid Halilhodzic in February after a quarterfinal loss to Algeria at the African Cup of Nations, his first defeat in 24 games. He was replaced by Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Brazil will then face Portugal in Durban, where all the players on the field will be speaking the same language. The Portugal squad even has some players who were born in Brazil, such as Deco, Pepe and Liedson.
But Portugal's best player is Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2008 FIFA player of the year who is scoring goals for Real Madrid almost as often as he did for Manchester United.
The Portuguese reached the semifinals four years ago, but they struggled to make it to this World Cup, needing to win a playoff after laboring through qualifying.
While North Korea is the clear outsider, the other three teams should be fighting over the two qualifying spots for second round.


Updated : 2021-03-05 02:41 GMT+08:00