Football: No Kaka, Robinho? No World Cup, says Pele of Brazil's hopes of winning

Pele says Neymar (second from right) has no World Cup experience, so it is not realistic to pin hopes of Brazil being crowned champions on him.
Pele says Neymar (second from right) has no World Cup experience, so it is not realistic to pin hopes of Brazil being crowned champions on him.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Pele says coach Scolari erred in not picking experienced players for squad

RIO DE JANEIRO - Even before a football has been kicked in anticipation, Brazil's hopes of winning next month's World Cup at home have been written off - by its favourite footballing son, no less.

Pele, the Fifa Player of the Century, said Brazil national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari had made a mistake by overlooking experienced players in choosing his squad.

Veterans Kaka and Robinho, stars of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, held hopes of playing in the tournament but were not called up, along with former AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho, a member of Brazil's triumphant 2002 team.

Pele believes Kaka and Robinho would have added much-needed experience to the hosts as they seek a sixth World Cup win.

"One of the two could have been called up at least to be with the group," Pele told Spanish sports daily Marca. "In general, the team is well chosen, but too little experience in big tournaments.

"It is unthinkable that Brazil's World Cup hopes will rest on the shoulders of a young man (Neymar) who has had no World Cup experience."

Scolari's 23-man squad has just six players with World Cup experience but the coach dismisses concerns about inexperience in his ranks.

"We will have to pass our own experience to these players," he said. "Our players have been gaining experience in their respective leagues in Europe so I don't think this lack of World Cup experience will play a big part.

"Yes, in certain World Cup situations, having that experience would be important. But I fully trust these players."

Scolari, who led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, said criticism of his squad selection was inevitable.

"Not everybody will agree with all the names, it's normal," he added.

"But now we have the 23 players; we would like to ask that our fans support all of them so together we can focus on our goal of winning the World Cup."

In 2002, Scolari favoured a 3-4-3 line-up with Ronaldo at its apex. But he and technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira will likely base their hopes now on a 4-2-3-1 formation with the idea that star man Neymar of Barcelona can enjoy a free role.

"It was easier to name the squad this time," said Scolari, remembering that in 2002 he had fretted about his final selection.

He will almost certainly keep faith with the starting team who beat Spain in the Confederations Cup final last year - Cesar, Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Hulk, Oscar, Neymar and Fred.

"The Confederations Cup team is the base," he confirmed.

Just four of the players are with Brazilian clubs - reserve goalkeepers Jefferson and Victor, and strikers Fred and Jo, who had brief spells in England with Manchester City and Everton respectively.

Scolari could have named 30 players before trimming the squad by June 2. But the Brazilian Football Confederation had indicated ahead of Wednesday he was happy to name his final squad now in readiness for group games against Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.

He will now oversee a June 3 friendly against Panama at Goiana and a final warm-up against Serbia three days later in Sao Paulo before the World Cup kicks off on June 12.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS