After a rough qualification to Brazil 2014 that included a home and away playoff against Oceania Football Confederation champion New Zealand, the Mexican national team earned their right to represent CONCACAF at the FIFA World Cup. Last December the world soccer governing body held the official draw for the 32 teams that will participate in the tournament. Mexico drew host nation Brazil for their second game.
On Wednesday, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil national team coach, released his list of the 23-man roster that will participate in the competition. Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, is in agreement with the list, but admits he would have made some changes.
“I think Scolari did well. He was coherent and there were no surprises,” Pelé said in an interview for ESPN Deportes. “However, I thought that players with more experience like Robinho or Kaká could have been called to join the group.”
Brazil is the five-time world champion and the nation, as well as the fans around the world expect the verde-amarela to claim their sixth title this summer. Pelé is no different. O’ Rei has high expectations of his national team and has often come out to make comments on individual players’ performance.
“We expected a lot from Robinho,” the Mexico 1970 World Champion said. “At [AC] Milan he was not what we knew him to be at Santos or with the national team. In reality it was a negative surprise because there were high expectations that he could have done better. Despite that, he is still one to consider at national team level.”
Pelé also stated that his national team needs a good leader on the pitch to help lead the younger players. He expects a player like Fred, who played during Germany 2006 to take that lead role.
“We cannot expect Neymar to take the lead role,” Pelé added. “In reality we must trust Fred, or even Thiago Silva, who also has good skills.”
He also added that Neymar can have a great performance and be the cup’s outstanding player. While most fans would see FC Barcelona starlet Lionel Messi as the one to watch, Pelé said that Messi has not had as good performances with Argentina as he does with the culés.
When questioned about who would win the world cup, Pelé said he was hopeful for Brazil, but also saw Spain and Germany as strong candidates. Brazil will open this year’s world cup against Croatia on June 12, 2014 at the Arena de Sao Paulo Stadium. They will also play Mexico and Cameroon in Group A action.