Wednesday, May 08, 2002
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Romario was the most significant absence on the final list of 23 players that coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will take to South Korea and Japan in quest of a record fifth World Cup title.
Everyone knew Romario's chances were slim, despite a national ``draft Romario'' movement that included even Pele and President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Scolari hadn't called up the 36-year-old striker for recent games, although that didn't discourage the legions of fans who campaigned loudly to bring him back.
``This is the team we thought was the most correct at the moment,'' Scolari said. ``My job is coach of the national team. Or are we going to put 170 million fans as coach?''
Romario said he would talk about the World Cup only on Tuesday. For weeks, Scolari had hinted that his ideal attack was Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, and that only injury or disaster would change his plans. The three were tested and approved in Brazil's 1-1 tie with Portugal last month.
To complete Brazil's offence, Scolari chose dribbling wizard Denilson, speedy Edilson and stalwart Luizao, a crude but effective scorer praised by Scolari more for his loyalty than his soccer skills.
The roster includes seven players from Brazil's 1998 World Cup squad, which lost the final 3-0 to host France. They include starters Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Emerson, along with wingers Cafu and Roberto Carlos. Dida, a reserve in '98, will compete for the starting goalie spot, while Denilson remains the No. 1 option to bolster the offence coming off the bench.
Goalkeepers: Marcos (Palmeiras), Dida (Corinthians) and Rogerio Ceni (Sao Paulo).
Defenders: Cafu (AS Roma), Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid), Junior (Parma), Belletti (Sao Paulo), Lucio (Bayer Leverkusen), Roque Junior (AC Milan), Anderson Polga (Gremio) and Edmilson (Lyon)
Midfielders: Emerson (AS Roma), Gilberto Silva (Atletico Mineiro), Kleberson (Atletico Paranaense), Ronaldinho (Paris Saint-Germain), Juninho Paulista (Flamengo), Kaka (Sao Paulo) and Vampeta (Corinthians)
Forwards: Ronaldo (Internazionale), Edilson (Cruzeiro), Luizao (Gremio), Denilson (Betis) and Rivaldo (FC Barcelona).
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