Football: Brazil seeks perfect coach for 2014

Luiz Felipe Scolari gestures during his presentation as Palmeiras' new soccer coach in Sao Paulo...
Luiz Felipe Scolari gestures during his presentation as Palmeiras' new soccer coach in Sao Paulo last week. Scolari says he has not received an offer to coach Brazil and is likely to stay with Palmeiras at least for the next two years. Photo by AP.
Brazil is taking its time to choose a new coach, the man who will face the hard task of leading the team at home in the 2014 World Cup.

After firing coach Dunga following the disappointing elimination by the Netherlands in the quarterfinals in South Africa, the Brazilian football federation is carefully considering its options before deciding who will be in charge of the five-time champions four years from now.

The federation took a chance in picking Dunga, who had no coaching experience, but this time it may adopt a different approach.

Experience is likely to be be the main requirement, as the pressure for Brazil to succeed at home will be unprecedented.

"To lose in 2010 was justifiable, but to lose in Brazil will be like repeating 1950," federation president Ricardo Teixeira said recently, referring to the team's 2-1 loss to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final in Brazil, when the country hosted the tournament for the first - and last - time.

The federation said it will make the announcement of the new coach by the end of the month, and the main names touted for the job include World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari, former Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, and three-time Brazilian league champion Muricy Ramalho.

Other names reportedly on the list include former player Emerson Leao, Paulo Autuori, and less-experienced coaches such as former AC Milan coach Leonardo, Sao Paulo manager Ricardo Gomes and Corinthians commander Mano Menezes.

Scolari led Brazil to the World Cup title in 2002 and is the favorite for fans, local media and even President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who recently said the former Chelsea manager has a "huge advantage over the other candidates" because of his triumph at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Even some other local coaches are behind the return of Scolari.

"He is the right coach because of all he has achieved so far," Santos' Dorival Junior said. "He is a great person and has the kind of a profile that everyone in football likes."

But Scolari just signed a two-year contract to coach four-time Brazilian champion Palmeiras and hinted he would not be available to the national team until 2012.

He said the federation has not made him an offer so far, but he did leave open the possibility of eventually taking the job.

Teixeira may not be willing to wait too long for Scolari, however, and may need to look for alternatives.

He could go with established coaches Luxemburgo and Ramalho, who are highly respected by Brazilian fans and media for their success locally.

Luxemburgo, currently with Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro, coached Brazil from 1998-2000. He led the team to the 1999 Copa America title, but off-field problems with the revenue service and Brazil's elimination in the 2000 Olympics eventually cost him the job. He has won five Brazilian league titles with four different teams.

Ramalho became a well-regarded name after leading Sao Paulo to three consecutive Brazilian league titles from 2006-2008. He is currently in charge of Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense.

Menezes led Corinthians to the Brazilian Cup title last year, while Gomes has coaching experience abroad with Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco and led Sao Paulo to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores this year.

"It makes me proud to have my name included in this discussion, but it's all speculation right now," Menezes said.

Leonardo, who as a player helped Brazil win the 1994 World Cup, had only a brief coaching experience with AC Milan last season and his hiring would mean taking another chance, which Teixeira may not be willing to do.

Dunga was chosen to revamp the national team, replacing veteran Carlos Alberto Parreira following Brazil's elimination to France in the quarterfinals in Germany in 2006.

He imposed a defensive style and left out stars such as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Adriano, displeasing millions of Brazilian fans, but the team achieved significant results under his command and entered the World Cup as a favorite to win a sixth world title.

Despite not impressing, Brazil did well and looked good to go all the way to the final, but a disappointing second half in the quarterfinal match allowed the Dutch to rally to a 2-1 victory.

Brazil will play a friendly against the United States in August in New Jersey, and could be playing five other exhibition matches before the end of the year.

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