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Brazil's reserves upstage first choices

SOCCER: Brazil fielded five so-called reserves in Thursday's match against Japan and the newcomers upstaged the regulars by inspiring the world champions to their best performance of the World Cup.

Brazil's 4-1 win has left coach Carlos Alberto Parreira pondering whether he should leave out leave out experienced players such as captain Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Emerson for the second-round match against Ghana on Tuesday.

With Brazil already qualified before Thursday's game but having played well short of their capabilities against Croatia and Australia, the usually conservative Parreira decided to do some tinkering.

Veteran full backs Cafu and Roberto Carlos, who have a combined age of 69, were replaced by Cicinho and Gilberto respectively.

Gilberto Silva and Juninho Pernambucano were brought in to play in front of the defence instead of Emerson and Ze Roberto and Robinho was given the chance to partner Ronaldo in attack. All five outdid the players they replaced as Brazil finally began to look like world champions.

"We kept the ball on the ground and knocked it around in the Brazilian way," said a delighted Parreira.

Cicinho and Gilberto finally brought some width to Brazil's attacks and Robinho's speed and trickery was a vast improvement on the relatively clumsy-looking Adriano.

Gilberto Silva was a rock in front of the defence and Juninho's excellent passing gave Brazil extra options going forward. Both Gilberto and Juninho capped their performances with second-half goals. Parreira did not want to give anything away on his possible team to face Ghana.

Although he said it was the kind of problem coaches like to have, the task of dropping the likes of Cafu, who has played in the last three World Cup finals, would be a painful one for Parreira, who gave the same player his World Cup debut in 1994.

"All the people who came in, Gilberto Silva, Juninho, Gilberto, played well," said Parreira.

"But I don't consider it to be a dilemma. We showed that we're not just 11 players, we're much more than this.

"It was important that the players who have never been to a World Cup played a game to give them confidence."

"It was very important that we won this game in this manner."

Roberto Carlos, who is one of the favourites to lose his place, appeared less than impressed with the performance, pointing out that, in his absence, Brazil gave away a goal for the first time in seven matches.

"It was a shame to have conceded a goal, we could have increased our run without conceding goals," he said. "But the team played well."

DORTMUND, Friday, Reuters




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