Brazil left at crossroads after World Cup failure

July 20, 2006

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 20 (Reuters) - Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira's departure on Wednesday has left Brazil suddenly facing a shortage of coaches and players to choose from as they set about rebuilding after their World Cup failure.

On the coaching front, Vanderlei Luxemburgo and Paulo Autuori appear to be the only obvious candidates and even they come with question marks hanging over them.

As for players, Parreira's faith in his ageing team over the last two years has given little chance for new faces to emerge in the national team.

Luxemburgo's record at club level, which includes five Brazilian championship titles with four different clubs, makes him the obvious choice.

But the coach has already had one bite at the cherry, a disastrous two-year spell which ended with him being sacked after a humiliating loss to nine-man Cameroon at the 2000 Olympic Games.

During his tenure Luxemburgo became the centre of an investigation over his tax returns and was later found to have adulterated his age, making himself three years younger than he really was.

He also fell out with Ronaldinho - now the world's number one player.

Luxemburgo later failed to deliver in his other major post, an unhappy 11 months with Real Madrid.

Autuori, on the other hand, enjoys a clean-cut image and has won South America's Libertadores Cup with two different clubs - Cruzeiro and Sao Paulo.

However, critics say he lacks charisma and failed to make the most of arguably Peru's best recent generation of players when he coached them from 2003 to 2005.

Under Autuori, Peru failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and were knocked out of the 2004 Copa America, which the country hosted, in the quarter-finals.

None of the other candidates, which include locally-based Abel Braga and Muricy Ramalho, are regarded as outstanding.

Brazilian confederation president Ricardo Teixeira's other option would be to follow the example set by World Cup hosts Germany, who gambled on former international striker Juergen Klinsmann even though he had no coaching experience.

Ex-Brazil captain Dunga has already been mentioned.

Whoever gets the job will face a tricky rebuilding task.

First, he will have to decide whether Ronaldo still merits a place in the team.

While other veterans such as Cafu are unlikely to play much part, the search for replacements could be long and hard.

Although Brazil is famous for its wealth of talent, few names immediately spring to mind after Parreira effectively shut out emerging players during his last two years in charge.

Many of the first choice reserves at the World Cup, such as Roberto Carlos's substitute Gilberto, were themselves in or approaching their thirties.

While a lot of experimenting needs to be done the new incumbent should be all too aware that, even in the early stages, victories will still be expected.