Brazil pin their hopes on Jesus, the new No.9

RIO DE JANEIRO • Teenage sensation Gabriel Jesus has been given Brazil's fabled No. 9 shirt for their World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia.

The 19-year-old will wear the number made famous by legendary figures such as Tostao and Ronaldo, who led Brazil to World Cup glory in 1970 and 2002 respectively.

Jesus' strike partner Gabriel Barbosa, who last week signed with Inter Milan from Santos, will wear No. 21.

Having joined Manchester City for £27 million (S$48.09 million) from Palmeiras earlier this month, Jesus has led many Brazilian football observers to believe the country's long search for a world-class central striker has ended.

He is the leading scorer in Brazil's Serie A this year, with 10 goals from 15 matches. He has netted 26 goals in 67 appearances since breaking into the first team at Palmeiras.

His dazzling displays attracted the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United, and City chiefs were delighted to win the race for his signature. He is set to move to Manchester in January once the Brazilian league season concludes.

Jesus also scored three times for Brazil in their gold medal-winning campaign at the Rio Olympics this month.

He could make his senior bow as soon as tomorrow when Brazil play Ecuador in Quito. Brazil clash with Colombia in Manaus five days later.

With Brazil lying in sixth - outside the qualification places - new Brazil coach Tite will expect Jesus to fire in his first game in charge of the Selecao. Ecuador, second in the South American zone qualifying table, are always strong at the altitude of Quito.

XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ECUADOR V BRAZIL
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil pin their hopes on Jesus, the new No.9'. Print Edition | Subscribe