| Tuesday, August 20, 2002 20:55 EST
World Cup champs hope to give Scolari final win
FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Outgoing Brazil coach
Luis Felipe Scolari is hoping to bow out of international soccer
in style on Wednesday when his team takes on Paraguay, the first
game since its victorious World Cup.
But Brazil's opponents are threatening to spoil the festivities
in the international friendly as they look to rebuild their
"We've been invited to the party and we intend to eat most
of the cake," Paraguay's caretaker coach Anibal Ruiz told
reporters on Monday.
Paraguay's second round defeat against Germany in the World
Cup heralded the end of an era as several key players --
including right-back Francisco Arce, central defenders Carlos
Gamarra and Celso Ayala and volatile goalkeeper Jose Luis
Chilavert -- are into their 30s.
Chilavert, reportedly not match fit, Gamarra, who wants to
concentrate on winning a first-team place at Inter Milan, and
injured Bayern Munich striker Roque Santa Cruz are absent while
Arce, an outstanding crosser and dead-ball specialist, has
announced his international retirement.
Paraguay has already found an heir apparent for Gamarra in
Julio Cesar Caceres, who last month helped his club Olimpia win
the Libertadores Cup -- South America's equivalent of the
But there are still many gaps to fill.
Ruiz, a Uruguayan who coaches the under-20 team, may be
hoping that a good performance can get him the job on a
For Brazil, however, the biggest problem could be meeting
Scolari, who led his team from crisis to World Cup victory
in only 14 months, will bid farewell to a group of players he
has often referred to as his family. Felipao (Big Phil), as he
is popularly known, has decided he wants to spend more time with
his own family and possibly pursue a career in Europe.
He originally picked the same 23 players who took part at
the World Cup, plus midfielder Emerson Ferreira who missed the
tournament after dislocating his shoulder in training, but he
has since lost midfielder Juninho and defender Lucio through
The team was given a hysterical reception during a training
session on Monday at the Castelao stadium but past experience
has shown that the cheers could turn to insults and boos if the
expected goal-feast does not materialize.
Striker Ronaldo, who has not played since the World Cup
final and is in the middle of a soap-opera like saga over his
future with Inter Milan, admits he is out of form and unlikely
to last little more than one half.
The venue for the friendly, however, will bring back fond
memories for Ronaldo and Scolari as it is where their World Cup
success effectively began.
It was during the March friendly against Yugoslavia that
Scolari first fielded the base of the team which went on to win
all seven games in South Korea and Japan.
The game was also Ronaldo's first international after his
two-and-a-half years of injury misery.
Some critics claimed Scolari was being irresponsible by
gambling on Ronaldo, who went on to score eight goals in the
World Cup and finish as top scorer.
Brazil: Marcos; Roque Junior, Edmilson, Anderson Polga;
Cafu, Gilberto Silva, Kleberson, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos;
Paraguay: Ricardo Tavarelli; Nestor Isasi, Celso Ayala,
Julio Cesar Caceres, Denis Caniza; Roberto Acuna, Carlos Bonet,
Carlos Humberto Paredes, Gustavo Morinigo; Jose Cardozo, Jorge