Brazil missed Ronaldinho, Adriano at World Cup: Branco

Kolkata, July 17: Former Brazilian football star Cláudio Ibrahim Vaz Leal, popular as Branco, Friday said he would have included Ronaldinho in the World Cup squad.

"Had I been the Brazilian coach, I would have had Ronaldinho in the team," Branco, a member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup champion team, told reporters here.

Dunga, who coached Brazil in the recently concluded World Cup, controversially left out Ronaldinho and Adriano.

Dunga was sacked after Brazil's exit at the quarter-final stage, losing to the Netherlands.

Branco, however, said besides Ronaldinho and Adriano, he would have taken Sao Paolo midfielder Anderson Hernanes and Santos’s attacking midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso.

Branco, in the city to take part in a soccer reality show, described Dunga as a "very close friend."

Branco recalled that he was called by the Brazilian Football Confederation president Ricardo Teixeira for discussion before appointing Dunga as the team coach four years back. "We both agreed on Dunga’s selection" said the left back, who wore the Brazilian colours in 72 international matches including 12 World Cup games spread over three editions.

Asked who should step into the hotseat now, the 46-year-old Branco said: "It is very difficult to say. The current team does not have many players for the future. Only two of the players are young.

"The Brazilian Football Confederation has in mind names of 25-30 youngsters. The next coach should be one who is intelligent and capable of taking forward the responsibility."

Branco, who had a glittering playing career from 1980 to 1995, would be in the city for 20 days as part of a 14-episode soccer talent hunt programme to be aired on the Bengali entertainment channel Mahua Bangla.

As part of the show, 46 talented youngsters have been spotted from various districts of West Bengal by leading Indian coach Subhas Bhowmick.

The recruits will be trained by the show’s head coach Branco and the number will gradually be pruned to 15 after 14 days of gruelling training at the Sports Authority of India (Eastern Centre) Complex. The recruits will also get a rare opportunity of being mentored by Brazilian soccer legend Romario. "He (Romario) will arrive here on July 18 and spend time with the kids on and off the field," said a Mahua Bangla official.

On August 1, the chosen squad -- with Dipendu Biswas as captain -- will play against Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake stadium.

Branco, on his first visit to India, said physical education and government support made a big difference between the quality of youngsters in his country and India. "If these things can be improved, the level of football will go up here."

Branco, a free-kick specialist, was candid enough to say that none of the recruits has impressed him. "But I think they can be improved through training".

Branco said he came from a poor family at Bage in southern Brazil and like most poor Brazilians dreamt of playing in the country's national colours.

"I always dreamt of playing football, of turning out in Brazilian jersey. Most of the Brazilian players come from poor and middle class families. I favour the process of cultivating or nursing the players.

"We will slowly notice quality in some players."

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