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03 December 2023

Scolari refuses to be drawn on axed Kaka

Kaka kisses the World Cup ball during a news conference. (REUTERS)


Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari gave no hints Tuesday when asked if out-of-favour veteran midfielder Kaka was still part of his 2014 World Cup plans.

"Every Brazilian has the same opportunity as everyone else to make the squad," he told reporters in Soweto ahead of a friendly against South Africa there Wednesday.

Now at AC Milan, Kaka, 31, was dropped for the fifth meeting between the countries with the 'Selecao' winning all the previous games by one-goal margins.

Brazil triumphed 3-2 in Soweto, 2-1 and 1-0 in Johannesburg, and 1-0 in Sao Paulo two years ago with substitute striker Hulk snatching a late winner.

Former Chelsea manager Scolari did offer hope to Kaka and other fringe contenders, saying he would watch matches in Brazil and Europe before his May 7 squad announcement.

"I will watch and talk to players at home and abroad and then choose my 23 for the World Cup. Our ambition is to win the tournament and the preparations are on track."

Brazil are hosting the June 12-July 13 quadrennial international football showpiece and are the media favourites to secure a record-extending sixth title.

Scolari said he would rely on videos and assistant Carlos Alberto Parreira for information about South Africa, who shocked World Cup holders Spain 1-0 in a Soweto friendly last November.

"Everything I know about South Africa is from videos I have watched," he said, "and Carlos has given me valuable insights."

Parreira, who guided Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title in Los Angeles, coached hosts South Africa at the 2010 tournament.

Scolari is also a World Cup winner, guiding the football-obsessed nation to their fifth crown in Japan 12 years ago.

He experienced international success again last year, with a 3-0 home triumph over Spain in the Confederation Cup final.

The 'Selecao' are in Group A at the World Cup with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon and the countdown involves one friendly each against European, Central American and African opponents.

After the South African Bafana Bafana (The Boys), Brazil face Panama and Serbia at home on June 3 and 6 and kick-off the World Cup on June 12 against Croatia.

Scolari acknowledged there were many differences between the styles of South Africa and the far more physical Cameroon.

"Every team has different characteristics. Cameroon have played well at past World Cups and are one of the best African football nations."

After several wet, murky days in Johannesburg, the weather cleared when Brazil visited the Soccer City match venue for some Tuesday evening limb loosening.

A large crowd is expected at the 90,000-seat national stadium with Barcelona striker Neymar the major Brazilian drawcard.