The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Year to forget for champions
- Parreira struggles to regroup Brazil

Rio De Janeiro: Rivaldo is on the substitutes’ bench at AC Milan, Edmilson is out of favour at Olympique Lyon, Kleberson is still hoping somebody will come along and buy him and goalkeeper Marcos is playing second division football.

The year since Brazil won their fifth World Cup in Japan and South Korea will probably go down as the most dismal in history both for the team as a whole and for many of its individual parts. Far from sweeping all before them, Brazil have scraped together a modest record of three wins, three draws and three defeats.

Brazil’s only competitive internationals have been in the much-maligned Confederations Cup, when club commitments forced coach Carlos Alberto Parreira to take a makeshift squad including 11 uncapped players and his team suffered the indignity of first-round elimination.

In the absence of real competition, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has been happy to lead its team around the world, playing friendlies in any country willing to pay an appearance fee reported to be between $700,000 and one million dollars.

Brazil have been to South Korea, China, Portugal, Mexico and Nigeria, travelling up to 30 hours and usually taking the field after only a single training session.

Five-day massacre

Parreira described the trip to China as a massacre after a five-day excursion in which he and the Brazil-based players spent more time in the air than in China itself.

Because of club commitments — both in Europe and at home — Parreira has not even been able to use the matches to prepare his team for the looming South American World Cup qualifiers.

Brazil, who under new Fifa rules will this time have to qualify even though they are defending champions, kick off their campaign in Colombia on September 7.

Parreira, who led Brazil to their fourth World Cup title in 1994, was re-appointed in January after Luiz Felipe Scolari, the volatile, ranting coach who led Brazil in Japan and South Korea, took charge of Portugal.

Parreira initially intended to continue with Scolari’s team and planned to gradually draft in Brazil’s wealth of promising young players such as the Santos duo Diego and Robinho, Cruzeiro striker Deivid, Sao Paulo’s Luis Fabiano and Corinthians striker Gil.

Circumstances have torpedoed that idea and the beleaguered coach has found himself piecing together teams with whoever is available. “We knew before that it would be very difficult to put together this team in the face of all these restrictions,” said Parreira before the Confederations Cup. But even if Parreira had been able to choose from a full array of top players, he might have been startled by the way in which some had lost their form.

A forlorn spectator

Rivaldo, a forlorn spectator at the Champions League final, finished the Italian season on the bench at AC Milan.

Defender Lucio missed five months of the season with his club Bayer Leverkusen, who narrowly escaped relegation in the Bundesliga.

Edmilson, his partner at the centre of the defence, struggled to find his form for most of the season with Olympique Lyon.

Left-back Roberto Carlos did well enough for Real Madrid but was given a three-month international ban after shoulder-charging the referee and being sent off during a 1-2 friendly defeat by Scolari’s Portugal.

Marcos, who kept four clean sheets in seven games at the World Cup, has been relegated to the second division of the Brazilian championship with Palmeiras. (Reuters)

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