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Tuesday, September 19
Soccer star Romario left off roster

GOLD COAST, Australia -- Brazil's Olympic soccer squad got down to training on Wednesday determined to put a selection controversy behind them and concentrate on securing the only major title they have never won.

While the Brazilian team attracted crowds of several thousand to each training session at the 1998 World Cup, the Olympic squad's first workout at Carrara's Gold Coast stadium was watched by a handful of fans and around 50 Brazilian journalists.

The stadium, formerly home to Australian Rules team the Brisbane Bears, is now used predominantly for baseball but provided a lush surface for the South Americans to work on.

Wanderley Luxemburgo, coach of both senior and Olympic teams, has been under fire at home for his decision not to select any overage players for the squad. The rules allow for three.

Central to the controversy is 35-year-old veteran striker Romario, who pleaded unsuccessfully with Luxemburgo to include him.

Luxemburgo will join the Olympic squad next week.

Acting head coach Jose Candido So Ho Maior refused on Thursday to discuss selection policy.

"The players here are the only players I am interested in and they are good enough to win the gold medal," he said.

Brazil's first match is against Slovakia on Sept. 14 -- the day before the opening ceremony -- followed by matches against South Africa and Japan, all in Brisbane. So Ho Maior said he hoped his squad's early arrival would enable them to be fully acclimated.

The full Brazil team has won four World Cups, the South American championship and the Confederations Cup, while its clubs have won the Intercontinental Cup and world club championship.

They have come close to the Olympic title on several occasions. Four years ago they led Nigeria 3-1 with 12 minutes remaining in the semifinals but lost in extra time.

In 1988, with Romario in the team, they lost in the final to the Soviet Union, following another final defeat to France four years earlier.

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