The two 'Ronnies', Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, have found another fan in favour of the duo forcing their way back into Brazil’s squad in time for the 2010 World Cup. The influential supporter of the pair turns out to be none other than the country’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Lula, as the president is affectionately known, believes the pair would be great assets for Dunga to have around as Brazil go for their sixth World Cup victory. The politician did concede, however, that both players cannot expect to stroll back into the team.
“Both players have the potential to be lethal weapons,” Lula told Gazzetta dello Sport. “If they make sacrifices and work hard Dunga will have them in good shape for the World Cup in South Africa.”
Brazil’s President was critical of Ronaldo’s selection for the 2006 World Cup. When questioning the presence of the three time World Footballer of the Year in Carlos Alberto Parreira’s squad, Lula asked, “Ronaldo is fat or isn't he?”
The statesman’s change of opinion on the player may in some part be linked to the fact that Ronaldo now turns out for Lula’s beloved Corinthians. During his first year with the club, Ronaldo has scored the goals to get the team into the next edition of the Copa Libertadores.
“Ronaldo plays for my team and of course I am enjoying it,” Lula said. “But I will say that he and Ronaldinho will have to be in great shape if they want to travel to South Africa.”
The President is not alone in earmarking Kaka as the most important player in the Brazil squad, and he is most wary of Argentina’s Lionel Messi, who he believes to be the greatest player in the world right now.
Lula would also like to see more opportunities for young Alexandre Pato of Milan.
“He’s very fast and a good finisher,” the man enjoying his seventh year as President of Brazil said. “He is in the phase between promise and reality and there are many dangers for him. Fame can betray young footballers. It takes patience and others must prevent events from going to his head.”
While giving his views on the team, Lula reserved praise for head coach Dunga, who he feels has restored a certain pride to playing for the Selecao.
“Under Dunga the idea of Brazilians wanting to play for Brazil has returned,” he concluded.
Brazil face up to Cris-is in defence
Unable to call upon the injured Juan of Roma, and sweating on the fitness of Werder Bremen’s Naldo, Brazil coach Dunga has had to act fast to draft defensive cover into his squad.
On the eve of Brazil’s game with England, Dunga picked up the telephone to invite Cris of Olympique Lyonnais out to Qatar to train with the team and ease the injury crisis amongst Brazil’s back line.
The selection of the former Corinthians and Cruzeiro centre-back was officially announced on the CBF’s website at 07:29 on Friday morning. According to the Brazilian Football Association, the defender will link up with the rest of the squad at the team hotel in Doha on Friday night.
Cris is the second centre-back to have been drafted into the squad late on after first pick Luisao of Benfica pulled out with injury. Luisao was replaced in the team for the friendlies against England and Oman by Thiago Silva of Milan.
Dunga has a further headache at left-back after Liverpool refused to release Fabio Aurelio.
Another striker gets waved under Dunga’s nose
Dunga maybe short of defenders at the moment but he is in no short supply of advice as to who he should be playing up front.
After the country’s President extolled the virtues of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato, the head coach of Fluminense felt it was the right time to remind Dunga about another Brazilian enjoying a rich vein of scoring form.
Fluminense coach Cuca believes that his leading marksman, Fred, has every right to travel to South Africa if he can keep up his current form in Brazil’s top flight. Since returning from injury, Fred has bagged nine goals in nine games and is looking every bit the player that was banging them in for Olympique Lyonnais just a couple of years ago.
“Fred’s goals would be crucial for Brazil, he is scoring a goal every game at the moment and that is why I’m putting his name forward,” Cuca said. “He is looking good and I even think he will improve before the end of the season. I am charmed by his football and he must have a chance of going to the World Cup.”
The player, however, was quick to dismiss talk of a recall to the national set-up, stressing that he is only focused on doing a good job for his club.
“I just have to concentrate on what I’m doing here. We are in a crucial moment of the season and I need to stay focused,” Fred said. “I know Dunga is looking at all the players and if I keep scoring then I have a chance”
Tim Sturtridge, Goal.com