RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil boss Mano Menezes has defied fan opinion by taking one of the key decisions which enhances their chances of winning football gold for the first time: dropping Ronaldinho writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The 32-year-old Flamengo icon was in the original long-list squad but has been omitted from the pre-London 2012 squad of 23 which will be reduced to 18 in time for the tournament.

David Luiz of Chelsea, Milan’s Pato and Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves of Barcelona, Marcelo of Real Madrid and Hulk of Porto are among senior players included in support of Santos starlet Neymar.

Brazil’s Olympic hopefuls face Denmark in Hamburg on May 26, the U.S. in Washington on May 30, Mexico in Dallas on June 3 and Argentina in New Jersey on June 9.

Menezes will confirm his final 18-man squad for the Games on July 6.

Brazil placed their faith in Ronaldinho as one of their over-age players at the Beijing Olymics in 2008 but in a tournament dominated by under-23 players with energy and pace he looked too slow even then, four years ago.

Menezes said: “Fans need to understand that sometimes they think one man can be the solution to all of Brazilian football’s problems and it does not work out like that. Now is the time to look at younger options.”

Pato has been absent from Brazil duty since the middle of last year after suffering a string of injuries playing for Milan.

Squad: Jefferson (Botafogo), Neto (Fiorentina), Rafael (Santos); Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Danilo, Alex Sandro (both Porto), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), David Luiz (Chelsea), Bruno Uvini (Tottenham Hotspur), Juan (Inter Milan); Casemiro, Lucas (both Sao Paulo), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Romulo (Vasco da Gama), Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Giuliano (Dnipropetrovsk); Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Hulk (Porto), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Neymar (Santos), Wellington Nem (Fluminense).


# # # #