Without Diego Costa, Scolari recalls Robinho
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari picked AC Milan striker Robinho on Thursday for the squad that will play friendlies against Chile and Honduras next month.
Robinho gained another chance thanks in part to the absence of Diego Costa, who was left out after choosing to play for Spain instead of his native Brazil.
Robinho played for Brazil in the 2010 World Cup, but has been off the national team for two years.
“Robinho practically knew he was going to be called up,” Scolari said at a news conference. “What do I expect from Robinho? I think he’s a skillful player, he’s a happy guy and he’s a player who has been called up 100 times. ... He has played in two World Cups. It’s important at this time to give him the opportunity and see how he’s going to fit in and have the spirit we want.”
Scolari said he was impressed by Robinho’s versatility.
“He can play as the false No. 9, or the 7 spot, or 11,” Scolari said. “He is flexible and tops at any position.”
There were also first-time call-ups under Scolari for winger Willian and defender Marquinhos.
In other key changes, Alexandre Pato and Leandro Damiao were left off the squad.
The other strikers picked by Scolari were Neymar, Hulk, Jo and Bernard. The coach hasn’t been able to count on injured Fred, the team’s starter when it won the Confederations Cup.
The coach also got into a heated exchange with a Brazilian journalist who suggested that Scolari coaching Portugal — after winning the 2002 World Cup for Brazil — was similar to Costa playing for Spain.
Scolari termed the question “ridiculous.”
He refused to take any questions about Costa.
The five-time world champions will play Honduras on Nov. 16 in Miami and Chile on Nov. 19 in Toronto.
Brazil is expected to play only one more match before the World Cup squad is announced next year.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar, Victor.
Defenders: David Luiz, Dante, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Daniel Alves, Maicon, Marcelo, Maxwell.
Midfielders: Lucas Leiva, Hernanes, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Ramires, Oscar, Bernard, Willian.
Forwards: Jo, Robinho, Hulk, Neymar.