RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil national team boss has taken up the poisoned chalice of manager the hosts’ bid to win Olympic football gold for the first time writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Dunga was resurrected as national coach after the disastrous conclusion to Brazil’s home World Cup campaign last year when they crashed 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals and 3-0 to Holland in the third place play-off.
His new-look team have started promisingly with the first major challenge being the summer’s Copa America.
Dunga takes over the Olympic squad from Alexandre Gallo who has been in charge of Brazil’s youth teams since January 2013.
In that time the under-17s reached the world quarter-finals, the under-21s won the Toulon tournament twice, and the under-20s finished fourth in the South American championships.
After Gallo’s departure the national team co-ordinator, Gilmar Rinaldi, wasted no time in asking Dunga whether he would take over for Rio 2016.
Dunga reportedly replied: “I’m in, let’s talk and let’s do it.”
The Olympic tournament, for which Brazil are automatically qualified as hosts, is an under-23 event but teams have the option of selecting up to three over-age players.
One of those will certainly be the Barcelona superstar Neymar who will be 24 next February. Neymar has already promised Brazil’s torcida that the players are determined to make amends, in the Olympics, for the World Cup debacle.
Brazil reached the Olympic final in London in 2012 only to lose 2-1 to Mexico, a defeat which ultimately cost coach Mano Menezes the main job. Similarly Vanderlei Luxemburgo was sacked as national coach in 2008 after the Beijing Olympic semi-final defeat by Argentina.
The Brazilians also ended up with silver medals in 1984 and 1988.
Brazil’s under-20s will be taken over by Rogério Micale who had been coach at Atletico Mineiro since 2009. He has an immediate challenge with only three weeks to prepare his team for the World Youth Cup.
Gallo had already selected the squad for New Zealand and Micale has accepted that it is too late to make any changes.