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Dunga Calls Ronaldinho to Play in 2 Friendy Matches Before Copa [May. 18th, 2007|07:28 pm]


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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Brazil coach Dunga announced the national soccer team Thursday for upcoming friendlies against England and Turkey, including Kaka and Ronaldinho -- two surprise choices who declined to play in the continent-wide Copa America next month.

World Cup veterans Kaka of AC Milan and FC Barcelona's Ronaldinho -- twice selected by FIFA as the world's best player -- said this week they weren't available for the Copa America and needed a rest after the grueling European season. Dunga accepted their decision -- but named them to the squad anyway for the two friendlies.

Dunga said he hoped a good showing by the national team would help erase the humiliation of Brazil's early exit from the 2006 World Cup in Germany. A pre-tournament favorite to win a record sixth title, Brazil was eliminated 1-0 by France in the quarterfinals.

"The national team means a lot to our country," Dunga said at a news conference Thursday. "What happened in the last World Cup, no one wanted. It's an open wound among our people. But when someone doesn't want to go, there's no point forcing him."

Brazil plays England in London on June 1, and Turkey in Dortmund, Germany on June 5. The games are the team's final preparations before the Copa America tournament, which starts on June 26 in Venezuela.

"The absence of Kaka, Ronaldinho, Lucio and others is complicated because they are valuable players," Dunga said. "But Brazil has other good players that we can test, and what we give up in technique, we might gain in determination."

The team is riddled with injuries, including Bayern Munich defender Lucio, who underwent surgery for a hernia and will be out for weeks. Internacional goalie Julio Cesar has complained of pains and is a question mark for the tournament, and Lyon striker Fred also is hurt.

Some of the players named, including Jo of CSKA Moscow and Afonso of SC Herenveen, are virtually unknown to Brazilian fans.

"Jo is young enough for the under-20 national team. We're bringing up players young enough for the Olympic squad," Dunga said.

The Olympic gold medal is the one major soccer award Brazil has never won.

Dunga said England was a vastly improved team and that he expected a tough game.

"They don't only play a high ball into the penalty area," he said. "The team has improved ... They're tall and strong, but also agile and with good technique."


Goalkeepers: Helton (FC Porto), Doni (AS Roma)

Defenders: Alex Silva (Sao Paulo), Alex (PSV Eindhoven), Juan (Bayer Leverkusen), Naldo (Werder Bremen), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Gilberto (Hertha Berlin), Maicon (Inter Milan), Daniel Alves (Sevilla).

Midfielders: Josue (Sao Paulo), Kaka (AC Milan), Ronaldinho (FC Barcelona), Diego (Werder Bremen), Elano (Shakhtar Donetsk), Edmilson (Barcelona), Mineiro (Hertha Berlin).

Forwards: Robinho (Real Madrid), Vagner Love (CSKA Moscow), Jo (CSKA Moscow), Afonso (SC Herenveen).