Brazil are ready, regardless of who wears the armband: Alves

QUITO • Veteran defender Daniel Alves has played down the importance of Brazil's captaincy amid continued doubt over who will lead the national football team.

The position became vacant when Neymar stood down after Brazil defeated Germany on penalties to win the Rio Olympics football tournament earlier this month.

"We all have to take on responsibility. I don't think it makes much of a difference who is captain," said Alves upon arriving in Quito for Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Ecuador on Thursday.

"We all have to take on responsibility as a group. Unfortunately in a team you have to choose a captain. I am always ready for what is coming. My commitment doesn't depend on being captain or not."

Brazil coach Tite is expected to rotate the captaincy among senior players, including Alves and Inter Milan central defender Miranda.

Thursday's clash at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium will be Tite's first match in charge, having replaced Dunga in June.

"We have already been told what is expected of us collectively and now it's up to every player to absorb that information and apply it individually," Alves added.

Ecuador are currently second in the South American zone qualifying standings for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with 13 points, four points ahead of sixth-placed Brazil.

The top four teams will book a direct berth in the tournament while the fifth-ranked side will earn a play-off spot.

Brazil have been struggling to dominate their opponents despite being one of the favourites to top the qualifying standings.

The return of Neymar, without the burden of captaincy, is expected to boost the country's chances.

Tite has said that his first goal is to secure qualification for Russia and has selected seven players who won gold at the Olympics.

He knows that they must show results quickly or else the demanding Brazilian fans will turn on him and his team.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE , XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil are ready, regardless of who wears the armband: Alves'. Print Edition | Subscribe