FOOTBALL Porto’s Hulk named in Brazil Olympics squad
Coach Menezes opts for striker and two defenders as his over-23 options for goal medal pursuit
Rio de Janeiro: Brazil coach Mano Menezes named Porto striker Hulk and two defenders on Thursday as his three permitted over-age players for the Olympic football tournament at the London Games.
AC Milan’s Thiago Silva and Real Madrid left back Marcelo were also selected, after defeats in internationals warm-ups in July against Mexico and Argentina highlighted Brazil’s problems in finding decent defensive players under 23 years old.
Even with captain Thiago Silva and Marcelo in the team, Brazil suffered from centre back Juan’s inexperience in a 2-0 loss to the Mexicans.
The problems were even greater when Thiago Silva missed the game against Argentina through injury, with youngsters Bruno Uvini and Juan in central defence exposed by Lionel Messi and his teammates in a 4-3 defeat.
The 18-man squad was announced by Menez in a Rio de Janeiro hotel, with Santos striker Neymar, 20, standing out as the ace in the pack.
Menezes had been expected to include Chelsea centre back David Luiz, rather than a forward, as his third over-age player to partner Thiago Silva in the middle of the back line.
“I think the Brazil team will be stronger with a player outside the defensive system,” Menezes told a news conference.
Named after the TV superhero for his muscular physique, the 25-year-old Hulk is one of the leading strikers in Europe and scored twice in Brazil’s 3-1 win over Denmark in a warm-up game in May.
Turning to his defence, Menezes said: “I don’t think the issues that arose against Argentina will be repeated with such frequency as they did in that game, because Messi won’t be at the Olympics.
“We won’t face a player who picks up the ball in midfield and destroys defensive systems individually and finishes in the way he does.”
Brazil, top seeds in Group C and seeking their first Olympic football gold medal, kick off against Egypt on July 26, before playing Belarus on July 29 and New Zealand on August 1 to complete the group phase.
They will play another warm-up against Olympic hosts Britain in Middlesbrough on July 20.
Goalkeepers: Rafael Cabral (Santos), Neto (Fiorentina)
Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafael (Manchester United), Danilo (Porto), Alex Sandro (Porto), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Juan (Inter Milan), Bruno Uvini (Sao Paulo)
Midfielders: Romulo (Vasco da Gama), Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Lucas (Sao Paulo)
Forwards: Neymar (Santos), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Hulk (Porto)