Scolari picked to lead Brazil at home World Cup

Associated Press
11/29/2012 11:04:40 AM
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SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Luiz Felipe Scolari is back in charge of Brazil's national football team, and he said Thursday he knows that anything but a sixth World Cup title at the 2014 tournament at home will be considered a failure.

The Brazilian football federation hired Scolari to lead Brazil through the World Cup, marking his return 10 years after leading the team to the 2002 World Cup title. He replaces Mano Menezes, who was fired last week because the federation didn't like his methods.

"It needs to be clear to all Brazilians: We have the obligation to win the title. We will be playing in front of our fans," Scolari said. "We are not the favourites right now, but we will work hard to make sure that we are during the tournament. A country with five world titles will not play hoping to finish second, third or fourth."

The former Chelsea and Portugal coach, who has been without a job since leaving Brazilian club Palmeiras, led Brazil to its fifth World Cup title at the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

"It's with great satisfaction that I return to work for Brazil in a great project like this, ahead of the 2014 World Cup," Scolari said.

Fans loudly called for the popular Scolari's return after the much-criticized Menezes left, chanting his name in recent matches the national team played in Brazil.

"We made this decision thinking on what is best for Brazilian football, thinking about the fans," Brazilian federation president Jose Maria Marin said. "We are putting the fate of the national team in competent hands ahead of next year's Confederations Cup and the World Cup, which is our main objective."

The announcement keeps Brazil from being without a coach at the Confederations Cup draw on Saturday, when the hosts will find out against which team it will play the competition's opener in June.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke had said Wednesday that FIFA did not influence Brazil's choice in any way, but President Sepp Blatter said Thursday it was "not possible" to have the host country without a coach during the draw, when all other teams would be represented.

"If you have a national team, you must have a national coach," Blatter said. "You cannot have a national team without a national coach. You cannot have a national team in no man's land. This is why it was absolutely necessary the leadership of (the federation) to make this nomination immediately. This is a must."

The federation also announced on Thursday that Carlos Alberto Parreira, who led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title in the United States, will be the national team's co-ordinator. Parreira also coached Brazil in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

"We are here to help and to give our support," Parreira said. "There is only one goal, which is to win the World Cup. Nobody can even think about Brazil not winning the World Cup at home."

The successful duo will be ahead of a team with few experienced players but filled with young promising stars such as Neymar, Oscar and Lucas.

"I wish a lot of luck to my friend Parreira and to Felipao," former Brazil striker Romario said. "We know that now we will have the best players picked for the team."

Brazil's first match with Scolari back in command will be at Wembley Stadium against England on Feb. 6.

"I couldn't ask for a better debut," Scolari said. "It's a country where I enjoyed working and living. It will be great playing with Brazil at Wembley."

Scolari had recently turned down jobs with Russia's national team and Brazilian clubs Gremio and Cruzeiro. He had been with Palmeiras since 2010 and succeeded in leading the team to the Brazilian Cup title earlier this year. But he couldn't keep Palmeiras from struggling in the Brazilian league and admitted he was partly responsible for its recent relegation.

The 64-year-old Scolari had said his goal was to end his career by coaching a national team during the World Cup in Brazil, and never dismissed a return to the national team.

"He was extremely victorious ahead of Brazil. He is a great name to lead the national team at the World Cup here," former Brazil great Zico said.

The outspoken Scolari took over Brazil the first time just a year before the 2002 World Cup, where he coached a team led by Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho to the title after seven straight wins.

He coached Brazil in 26 matches in total, winning 19, drawing one and losing six.

"I don't see a lot of differences from the first time I was the coach," he said. "The goal will remain the same, we have to win."

In 2003, Scolari accepted a job with the Portuguese national team, which reached the final of the 2004 European Championship and the semifinals of the World Cup two years later. He left after elimination in the quarterfinals of Euro 2008, taking over at Chelsea.

Scolari didn't thrive at the English club, though, complaining of difficulties dealing with some of the players, especially striker Didier Drogba. He was fired less than a year later.

Scolari, who had a deal with Brazil's sports ministry to work as a volunteer to help promote the 2014 World Cup, also coached Uzbek club Bunyodkor before returning to Palmeiras in July 2010.

He will be taking over a national team revamped by Menezes after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when Brazil lost in the quarterfinals under coach Dunga. Menezes led Brazil to a 21-6-6 record but there were disappointing results against traditional rivals Germany, France, Argentina and the Netherlands.

He also failed to guide the team to the Copa America title or bring home the Olympic gold, which is the only football trophy the five-time world champions haven't won.

Luiz Felipe Scolari (Photo: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)


(Photo: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)
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