Menezes confident of Brazil's chances in London

March 02, 2012, 12:25 p.m. (ET)

SAO PAULO(AP) Soccer coach Mano Menezes believes Brazil has a team good enough to win its first gold medal at the London Olympics.

Brazil has a “quality group” of Olympic-aged players capable of winning the only significant soccer competition it hasn't yet won, Menezes told Brazilian channel SporTV while inspecting the team hotel in London on Friday.

“I have a lot of confidence in the team that we will bring to London,” he said. “We will have a team capable of fighting from the start to try and win the Olympics.”

Among the players set to make the trip are Neymar, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Lucas, Leandro Damiao, Oscar, Inter Milan's Philippe Coutinho, Tottenham's Sandro, AC Milan's Alexandre Pato and Manchester United's Rafael and Fabio.

It remains uncertain if Menezes will be able to summon all of them to the Olympics. Clubs are not obligated to release players to the tournament, which is not on the international calendar.

Brazil won the Olympic silver medal in 1984 and 1988, and the bronze in 1996 and 2008.

In Brazil's 2-1 win against Bosnia in an exhibition on Tuesday in Switzerland, Menezes summoned only eight under-23 players - Neymar, Alex Sandro, Danilo, Rafael, Lucas, Sandro, Ganso and Leandro Damiao.

“We have a quality group of under-23 players, but it hasn't been possible to fully observe all of them in matches so far,” Menezes said. “We prioritized those we thought we needed to observe.”

Brazil will face Denmark in an exhibition in Germany in May, but Menezes is still unlikely to summon a squad solely with Olympic-age players. He will likely use more of them when Brazil tours the United States to play the host on May 30, Mexico on June 3 and Argentina on June 9.

“The time we will have in the United States will allow us to stay together for some 20 days, that will be a good first step,” he said. “Then we will have a final stage of preparations with only the players who will come to the Olympics. Without a doubt we will use this time to try to improve important aspects of our team.”

The Olympic tournament is played with under-23 squads but each team can use three players over that age.

The coach said that at least one of his three picks will likely go to a defender.

“In central defense we lack under-23 players,” he said. “There is a higher possibility that we will use an older player in that sector.”

AC Milan's Thiago Silva, who was with Brazil when it finished third at the Beijing Games in 2008 after losing to Lionel Messi's Argentina in the semifinals, is among those touted to make this year's team, too.

Two-time world player of the year Ronaldinho also was in Beijing and said recently he wants to play again in London.


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