SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – AC Milan forward Robinho was the surprise choice yesterday when coach Luiz Felipe Scolari named Brazil’s squad to face Honduras and Chile in friendlies next month.
The mercurial former Manchester City player, who has scored 28 goals in 84 games for Brazil, was recalled after a two-year absence and will travel to North America for the two matches as the host nation continue their build-up to the 2014 World Cup. “He can be a false 9, number 7, number 11 – Robinho is versatile and he is quality in any position from midfield forwards,” Scolari told a news conference.
“He is daring and I want him to be daring for the national side. I expect to see in him what we know he has and that’s technical quality and joy. It is important we give him a chance to see if he can integrate with the team spirit we want.”
Robinho has returned to something like his old form this season and although he only has three goals in 13 appearances for Milan, his all-round play has been good.
Chelsea winger Willian and 19-year-old central defender Marquinhos of Paris St Germain were also included in the squad but Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Sandro was left out after only just returning to Premier League action after injury.
Kaka, who has also shown signs of a return to form at AC Milan, missed out and unsurprisingly there was no call-up for Brazilian-born Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa who has opted to play for Spain instead.
Scolari called up 22 players, only two of whom play their football in Brazil.
With the domestic championship in its final weeks, the coach said he deliberately avoided taking too many players from the local clubs. Atletico Mineiro goalkeeper Victor will start the first game against Honduras, said Scolari.
Victor, Botafogo’s Jefferson and Diego Cavalieri of Fluminense are vying for two World Cup spots alongside first-choice Julio Cesar.
Brazil take on Honduras in Miami on Nov. 16 before meeting Chile in Toronto three days later.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Queens Park Rangers), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Defenders: Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain), Dante (Bayern Munich), David Luiz (Chelsea), Marquinhos (Paris St Germain), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (AS Roma), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris St Germain)
Midfielders: Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Hernanes (Lazio), Luiz Gustavo (VfL Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea)
Forwards: Neymar (Barcelona), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Robinho (AC Milan), Jo (Atletico Mineiro)