Confident Scolari says Brazil must aim high
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said Wednesday his charges must aim high and target the title when they host next year's World Cup.
"I took on the national side to be champion -- do you think I am going to say anything else?" asked Scolari rhetorically in an address to the Footecon football trade fair in Rio.
Having overseen the Selecao's fifth World Cup success in Japan in 2002, Scolari took the reins once more a year ago and promptly secured a resounding Confederations Cup success over world champions Spain last June on home soil.
That win has prompted domestic pundits to demand more of the same next June with Brazil desperate to win the tournament for the first time in front of their own fans -- they were stunned in the 1950 final in Rio by little neighbours Uruguay.
Scolari has said for weeks he knows in essence who he will select in his 23-man squad and revealed that striker Fred, who dovetailed well with Barcelona starlet Neymar last June, will be fit despite an injury-plagued season at Fluminense.
"The cup is in June, so he will have time to recover," said Scolari, whose team will face Croatia in the opening World Cup match on June 12 in Sao Paulo.
The Brazilians will then take on Mexico and Cameroon in their other pool matches.
Players looking to earn places on the roster include Chelsea midfielder Willian and AC Milan's Robinho, who is set to profit from Diego Costa's recent decision to play for Spain.
Scolari, who said in the run-up to Friday's World Cup draw at Costa do Sauipe in northeastern Brazil that the hosts had an "obligation" to take the crown, meanwhile said he hoped to arrange a June 4 friendly with Serbia in order to prepare to face Croatia.
"We want a tough opponent -- Serbia are technically very strong," said Scolari, while adding that an alternative could be the Czech Republic.
Brazilian assistant coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said at Footecon that another friendly was likely against a Central American opponent in order to prepare the World Cup tussle with Olympic conquerors Mexico.
"But we don't want to go up against anyone too physical," said Parreira in allusion to last month's date with Honduras. Brazil won 5-0 in the United States but complained at some rough challenges on their players and do not want to risk injury just days before the finals.
After opening up against the Croatians the Brazilians meet Mexico in Fortaleza on June 17 and then tackle Cameroon in Brasilia six days later.
Scolari is to unveil his squad on May 7.
Prior to that the Samba stars are due to face South Africa in Johannesburg on March 5.
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