Brazil add home-based trio to South Africa friendly squad
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday added three home-based players to his squad to face South Africa in a March 5 friendly in Johannesburg.
Scolari, the man behind Brazil's 2002 World Cup success in Japan and last year's Confederations Cup triumph over Spain, added Fluminense striker Fred, Atletico Mineiro forward Jo and Botafogo goalkeeper Jefferson to 16 foreign-based players.
"Felipao" will Sunday take just 19 players to South Africa for the match at Soccer City.
"It's another opportunity to get the group together, the last one before the final squad is brought together," Scolari said in a statement on the Brazilian Football Confederation website.
"It will be an important test against a South African side who recently beat Spain (in a November friendly)," said Scolari, adding he would use the get-together to fine-tune World Cup plans with the players and his technical staff.
A fortnight ago, in unveiling his foreign-based contingent, Scolari said his prime concern was the fitness of 30-year-old Fred, who scored twice in last June's win over world champions Spain in Rio.
Fred, who missed from the spot in a wekeend Rio state league loss to Botofogo, is coming off a thigh injury suffered last August which he aggravated earlier this month.
But Scolari has continually stressed his faith in Brazil's number nine, describing the former Lyon striker as "a fine person, a leader."
The veteran will therefore be one of the first names on Scolari's sheet when he unveils the full World Cup squad on May 7.
As well as his five goals at the five Confederations Cup, he dovetailed well with Neymar throughout the tournament.
Former Manchester City and Everton misfit Jo, still only 26, is called up after impressing at the Confederations Cup, where he was twice on target.
Last season, he also starred as Atletico lifted the Copa Libertadores.
Last year, Scolari lost one option up front when Atletico Madrid's Brazil-born forward Diego Costa elected to play for adopted country Spain.
Other strikers in the 19-man squad are Barcelona star Neymar and Zenit St Petersburg striker Hulk with Bernard of Shakhtar Donetsk providing back-up.
In goal, Scolari is keeping faith with first-choice Julio Cesar, 34, following his loan move to Major League Soccer side Toronto after eight months on the sidelines at English second tier side Queens Park Rangers.
But Botafogo understudy Jefferson, with just nine caps to date, will travel to Johannesburg as Brazil prepare for this friendly and June dates with Panama and Serbia before their June 12 World Cup opener against Croatia in Sao Paulo.
Brazil squad to face South Africa in March 5 Johannesburg friendly:
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (QPR/ENG - loan Toronto/CAN), Jefferson (Botafogo)
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), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro)
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