Brazil has creative sparks, just not in South Africa

Johannesburg: Brazil have plenty of players who could provide some much-needed inspiration and creativity as they attempt a sixth-world title but, unfortunately, they are not in South Africa.

Having struggled to break down a stubborn North Korea in the opening match, eventually beating the rank outsiders 2-1, and with Kaka clearly short of match fitness, the five-times champions badly need someone who can unlock a packed defence.

The names of Ronaldinho, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Neymar and Alexandre Pato are among those which spring to mind but none of them made Dunga`s final 23-man squad.

Instead, Brazil have filled their squad with midfield spoilers and included only four forwards.

The midfielders include two survivors from the victorious 2002 team, Gilberto Silva and Kleberson who, at least at club level, appear to be past their best.

"With the exception of Kaka, the midfield just destroys," said former Brazil captain Socrates in a recent interview.

Ronaldinho is the most glaring absence.

The twice World Player of the Year has enjoyed a good season with AC Milan but his revival has been overlooked by Dunga while his club team mate Alexandre Pato, who scored a spectacular goal on his international debut against Sweden, has been left in the cold.

Perhaps the most disappointing exclusion was 20-year-old Santos playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso.

Elegant and unhurried, he has the ability to conjure up an incisive pass which is lacking in players such as Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo and Elano and would have made an exciting and unpredictable addition to the squad.

Eighteen-year-old forward Neymar, quick and cheeky, is more in the mould of Robinho and scored 14 goals for Santos in the Paulista championship this season.

"Pele played for Brazil when he was 17 and I was also picked when I was 17," said Ronaldo recently. "Selecting Neymar would repeat something which is really nice, and he deserves it.”

Former Brazil captain Carlos Alberto Torres said he would have taken both the Santos youngsters.

"The national team is the place for the best, you have to take them," he said.

The counter-argument is that Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato have both had their chance and failed to take it while the Santos duo have only shown in Brazilian domestic competition, which is a far cry from the World Cup.

Dunga can also point to Brazil`s record over the last two years - one defeat in 26 matches - achieved with the players he has brought to South Africa.

"Dunga has always emphasised that when a player is given a chance in the national team, he has to make the most of it," said goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

"The ones who are playing now made the most of their chances, that`s why this group is strong."

Bureau Report