Santiago, Oct 7 (Xinhua) Veteran forward Ricardo Oliveira is ready to step into Brazil’s troublesome central striker role when the Selecao begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against Chile on Thursday.
Renowned throughout their history for a seemingly endless production line of centre forwards, Brazil have suffered from a dearth of target men in recent years, reports Xinhua.
Among those tested without success in Brazil’s No.9 position since last year’s World Cup are Diego Tardelli, Robinho and Roberto Firmino.
The situation has become more acute due to the suspension of their captain and talisman Neymar, who will also miss Brazil’s home qualifier against Venezuela in Fortaleza on Tuesday.
With 17 goals in 25 matches for Santos in Brazil’s Serie A this season, 35-year-old Oliveira believes he has done enough to earn a starting berth at Santiago’s Estadio Nacional.
“I don’t think I have to convince anybody,” Oliveira told reporters on Tuesday. “He knows my potential. I have already played in the national team. I just have to make sure I’m ready and take my opportunity.”
Oliveira was a surprise inclusion by Brazil coach Dunga, having not represented Brazil since 2007.
“He [Dunga] is trying to bring in people who have champion’s mentality,” Oliveira said. “The Selecao have to be like that. I am coming with that winning mentality, to always give my best.”
Thursday’s match will be Brazil’s first competitive outing since their Copa America quarter-final defeat to Paraguay in June.
Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile are still riding a wave of emotion after winning their maiden Copa America title as hosts.
“Chile have a great team ethic and within that team some individual players who stand out. We’re going to have to defend well but they also have some weakness and we have to prepare ourselves to exploit them,” Oliveira added.