Rio De Janiero, Sep 18 (IANS) Chelsea midfielder Oscar and Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho were included in Brazil’s squad for their opening 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela.
But there was no place for veteran Kaka, who had been recalled for friendlies against Costa Rica and the USA earlier this month, or former captain Thiago Silva.
The Selecao will also be without captain Neymar for next month’s fixtures as he serves the final two matches of a four-game international ban.
Brazil will play this year’s Copa America champions Chile in Santiago on October 8 before hosting Venezuela in Fortaleza five days later.
Oscar returns to the team after missing the Selecao’s victories over Costa Rica and the USA due to injury. Coutinho was called up as the Chelsea player’s replacement for the matches, Xinhua reported.
In his press conference to announce the squad on Thursday, Brazil coach Dunga admitted the team still bore scars from their 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat to Germany last year.
“We now have to change the focus,” Dunga said. “What happened in the last World Cup is the same as 1950. It is a scar that will remain forever. And we have to be honest with our fans and admit that we will have difficulties.
“Even when Brazil had a far superior team, we have had difficulty in qualifying. We trust that we will do it. We will suffer, but we will qualify.”
Dunga added that the absence of Neymar would be no excuse for sub-par performances against Chile and Venezuela.
“These players are in the squad because they are the best,” he said. “In the 70s Pele was the big star and Jairzinho scored seven goals. A team does not win with just one player. It takes the collective. Who is stronger? The pack or a lone wolf? One does not live without the other. When we have a strong group, things will happen naturally. Nobody wins alone.”
The matches will be Brazil’s first competitive outings since their Copa America quarter-final loss to Paraguay on penalties in June.
Goalkeepers: Jefferson (Botafogo), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Alisson (Internacional).
Defenders: David Luiz (PSG), Miranda (Inter Milan), Marquinhos (PSG), Gil (Corinthians), Fabinho (Monaco), Rafinha (Bayern Munich), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Elias (Corinthians), Renato Augusto (Corinthians), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Lucas Lima (Santos), Lucas Moura (PSG), Willian (Chelsea), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Oscar (Chelsea).
Forwards: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Hulk (Zenit).