Brazil will be without some of its top stars at the World Cup, with coach Dunga betting on players that are not too well known but who achieved successful results with the team.
Ronaldinho, Adriano and Neymar have been left out of Brazil’s preliminary World Cup squad on Tuesday, along with three-time FIFA world player of the year Ronaldo and veteran left back Roberto Carlos.
Kaka, Robinho, Maicon and Julio Cesar were picked in the squad, but the list also has players such as Elano, Julio Baptista, Ramires, Josue, Nilmar and Gilberto — who are lesser known but have been regulars since Dunga took over the team.
“I was asked to revamp the national team after the 2006 World Cup,” Dunga said. “We closed a cycle of players in the national team, bringing players with attitude, commitment and passion for the national team.”
Dunga is sticking to most of the players who helped Brazil win last year’s Confederations Cup and finish top of South American World Cup qualifying. His players also won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and earned victories in high-profile friendlies against Argentina, Italy, England and Portugal.
"These players are winners," Dunga said. "There is no doubt that they are prepared to help Brazil reach its goal. They are ready to give their best for the country."
One of the biggest surprises was the absence of Adriano, who had been constantly called up by Dunga in recent matches. But there had been doubts because of recent off-the-field problems that caused him to miss several training sessions with Flamengo.
"We gave Adriano numerous chances," Dunga said. "But it came to a time when we had to make a decision."
Wolfsburg's Grafite was called up to take Adriano's place.
Ronaldinho, a two-time FIFA world player of the year, hadn't been called up for the national team since April 2009, but had been playing reasonably well this season with AC Milan and many wanted him to be included in the squad.
“Ronaldinho’s quality and capacity as a player is indisputable,” Dunga said. “But my decision has to be made based on reason. I have to make a decision based on what happens on the field.”
Brazilian fans and local media had also been pushing for Dunga to summon Santos young sensations Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, who have been among the hottest players in Brazilian football this year.
The 18-year-old striker Neymar has dazzled fans with his speed and balls skills, being called by many as the new Robinho. The 20-year-old Ganso, or "Goose" in Portuguese, attracted attention for his maturity and ability as a playmaker. Along with Robinho, they led Santos to more than 100 goals in some 30 matches this year.
"Some players are extremely talented, but we have to test them before taking them to a World Cup," Dunga said. "Maybe they are ready to play in a World Cup now, but maybe they are not."
None have been called up to the senior team so far.
Dunga’s list was basically the same as the one for Brazil’s latest friendly against Ireland in March, with the exception of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who was replaced by Victor at the time. Only three players are currently in Brazilian football — Kleberson, Gilberto and Robinho, who is on loan from Manchester City.
“Those who took advantage of their chance have made the team,” Dunga said.
Brazil will practise for about a week in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba before heading to South Africa on May 26. The five-time world champions will play against North Korea, Ivory Coast and Portugal in Group G.
More than 500 Brazilian and international journalists were accredited for the announcement of Dunga's list in Rio de Janeiro.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Gomes (Tottenham), Doni (AS Roma, Italy).
Defenders: Maicon (Inter Milan), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Michel Bastos (Lyon), Gilberto (Cruzeiro), Lucio (Inter Milan), Juan (AS Roma), Luisao (Benfica), Thiago Silva (AC Milan).
Midfielders: Elano (Galatasaray), Kaka (Real Madrid), Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos), Josue (Wolfsburg), Ramires (Benfica), Felipe Melo (Juventus), Kleberson (Flamengo), Julio Baptista (AS Roma).
Forwards: Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Nilmar (Villarreal), Robinho (Santos), Grafite (Wolfsburg).