October 11, 2012
Brazil v Iraq: Preview
Real Madrid midfielder Kaka hopes tomorrow night's friendly against Iraq in Sweden will kickstart his international career after a two-year absence.
The 30-year-old has not played for the Selecao since the 2010 World Cup and is eagerly anticipating his first return to the side since injury cost him his place in Mano Menezes' squad to face Gabon and Egypt last November.
He is expected to be named in the starting 11 in Malmo, but is keen to ensure this will be the first of many matches he will appear in for his national side.
"I'm very happy for being back. I want to settle down in the national team and win my place. I still have a number to things to achieve,'' Kaka told reporters.
"I was far away from the national team, but my injury problems have disappeared and my physical form has also improved.''
Kaka had been anticipating a recall to the national side for some time and was delighted to finally be welcomed back.
"This is like the first time I was called up to the squad,'' he said.
"I've followed all the nominations expecting to be included, even when I knew it was quite difficult to be.''
Paris St Germain defender Thiago Silva has backed Kaka to make an instant impact on his return to the international fold.
"He's a player who can make a difference,'' the defender told Globo Esporte.
"He was not the best in the world for nothing, he already showed his quality on the pitch. It will be another player to share responsibility.''
The friendly against Iraq is the first of a European-based double-header for the Brazilians, which concludes with a match against Japan in Poland on Tuesday.
Iraq coach Zico, meanwhile, is unhappy that his team are playing a friendly against the South Americans just days before a crucial World Cup qualifier against Australia.
The former Brazil international told Globo Esporte: "Next Tuesday we play a very important match against Australia in Qatar. We were training there so going to another country to play this match and then go back is not ideal.
"We are losing the advantage we had over the Australians, who are also doing a long trip to Doha.
"Also we are the only national team who cannot play World Cup qualifiers at home.''
This will be the third time Zico has faced the Selecao as coach of a foreign country.
His previous two meetings - a 2-2 draw at the 2005 Confederations Cup and a 4-1 loss at the 2006 World Cup - came while he was coach of Japan.
But Zico, who won 72 caps for his country, admits it is the pre-match rituals that present him with the most trouble when lining up against his compatriots.
"The national anthem is the most difficult moment, very emotional. I've played for Brazil for a long time,'' he said.
"This is a friendly match, but the other two games, which were at official tournaments, were much more tough.''
Zico says a heavy defeat could be damaging to the morale of his side and has called on his players to step up to the plate against their illustrious opponents.
"I'm always worried about a big defeat to unbalance our confidence, but when will these players have the opportunity to play Brazil again in the future?'' he said.
"This is a unique chance and we must profit from it.''