Brazil’s Menezes puts faith in youth for Moroccan friendly

March 24 – On Saturday, Brazil will kick off the new cycle with a friendly international against World Cup semi-finalists Morocco in Tangier, but question marks loom over the future direction of the team.

Previously with Brazil’s U-20 team, interim coach Ramon Menezes has selected young players as well as home-based stars for the trip to North Africa, Brazil’s first outing following their disappointing quarter-final exit against Croatia at the World Cup, the fifth time in a row that the South Americans fell to European opposition in the knockout stage of the tournament.

Andre of Fluminense, Andrey Santos of Vasco da Gama, Arthur of America-MG, Joao Gomes of Watford, Vitor Roque of Cruzeiro, Roberto Renan of Zenit St Petersburg, and Raphael Veiga and Rony of Palmeiras are the new names in the squad. Five of the debutants also featured in Brazil’s U-20 team at the recent South American championship.

No players from Flamengo were included in the squad. Neymar is out of the team because of an injury.

Menezes says he has drawn inspiration from Lionel Scaloni, who arrived as an interim manager with Argentina before guiding them to a third World Cup title in Qatar.

However, it is unlikely that he will be given the same opportunities with the Confederation of Brazilian Football (CBF) reportedly keen to appoint a foreign manager. Real Madrid’s Carlos Ancelotti has been the most cited name, but CBF supremo Ednaldo Rodrigues insists that the coach will be selected based on merit and quality, and not nationality.

At the end of 2022, the CBF’s contract with commercial partners Pitch International expired and the governing body didn’t extend the partnership, which means that to date it is organising its own friendly matches. Rodrigues said that so far no successor to Pitch had been appointed and the CBF is, seemingly, in no particular hurry to find one.

Pitch took Brazil around the world for about a decade, organizing friendlies in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America but Tite’s coaching staff often expressed discomfort with some of the fixtures that Brazil had to play.

During this international window, Brazil will play one friendly.  The Moroccans, will also entertain Peru. In Qatar, the Atlas Lions made World Cup history becoming the first African country to reach the last eight before falling to France.

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