Brazil: Rafael called up to play for Seleção

Defender Rafael (red jersey) was added to the Brazilian national soccer team’s roster for friendlies against Denmark, the United States, Mexico and Argentina. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

Defender Rafael (red jersey) was added to the Brazilian national soccer team’s roster for friendlies against Denmark, the United States, Mexico and Argentina. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

By Chris Swanson for Infosurhoy.com – 22/05/2012

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Mano Menezes, the coach of the Brazilian national soccer team, has added defender Rafael to the roster for four upcoming friendlies to replace Dani Alves, who broke his collarbone while practicing with his Spanish club team FC Barcelona last week.

Rafael, who plays for British power Manchester United, will join the Seleção for games against Denmark in Hamburg, Germany, on May 26 before playing three games in the United States – against the Americans in Landover, Md., on May 30, Mexico in Arlington, Texas, on June 3 and Argentina in East Rutherford, N.J., on June 9.

The games serve as tune-up for the Olympics, which is the only major international tournament Brazil, a five-time World Cup champion, hasn’t won. The Seleção won the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

Pekerman names squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers

Coach José Pekerman has named his squad for Colombia’s next two World Cup qualifiers, which are on the road against Peru and Ecuador on June 3 and 10, respectively.

The 25-man roster includes one of the nation’s rising stars, 19-year-old midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero of Colombia club Atlético Nacional.

Colombia, with four points through its first three qualifiers, is tied for sixth place with Paraguay in the CONMEBOL qualifiers, led by Uruguay, which has seven points in three matches. Argentina and Venezuela each has seven points in four games. Ecuador has six points in three games. Chile has six points in four games.

Pekerman chose goalies David Ospina (Nice), Luis Enrique Martínez (Once Caldas) and Bréiner Castillo (Independiente Medellín).

He went with defenders Camilo Zúñiga (Napoli), Juan David Valencia (Atlético Nacional), Mario Alberto Yepes (Milan), Pablo Armero (Udinese), Luis Amaranto Perea (Atlético de Madrid), Cristián Zapata (Villareal), Bernardo José Espinosa (Racing Santander) and Aquivaldo Mosquera (América).

In the midfield, he selected Abel Aguilar (Hercules), Carlos Sánchez (Valenciennes), Alexander Mejía (Atlético Nacional), Juan Fernando Quintero (Atlético Nacional), Fredy Guarín (Inter Milan), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Lecce), James Rodríguez (Portol), Elkin Soto (Mainz) and Aldo Leao Ramírez (Morelia).

As for forwards, he went with Dorlan Pabón (Atlético Nacional), Radamel Falcao (Atlético de Madrid), Luis Fernando Muriel (Lecce), Adrián Ramos (Hertha Berlin) and Jackson Martínez (Jaguares).

Paraguayan team trains in thin air to prepare to face Bolivia

La Albirroja’s World Cup qualifier against Bolivia is three weeks away, but the squad arrived in the Andean nation on May 18 so it can adjust to the country’s thin air before the teams’ game on June 9.

The team will practice 22 times in the La Paz metropolitan area, which is 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) above sea level. It’s common for teams to struggle playing in the Bolivian capital, as its high altitude makes breathing difficult, especially during a 90-minute game.

It is imperative Paraguay secures at least a point for a tie against Bolivia, but it really needs three points with a win to improve its CONMEBOL standings.

Paraguay has four points through four games and is tied for sixth place with Colombia, but the Cafeteros have played just three games. Bolivia is in last place with a point through four games.

Bolivia faces Chile on June 2.

Italy’s AC Milan will not part with Brazilian star Pato

Brazilian star forward Alexandre Pato won’t be leaving Italian power AC Milan in the coming months, Adriano Galliani, the team’s chief executive officer, told the media.

Pato, 22, has reportedly drawn interest from Brazilian club Corinthians and France’s Paris Saint-Germain, but Galliani expects Pato to remain in Italy.

“Pato will stay at Milan,” he told Brazil’s Lancenet. “He will leave neither on a permanent deal, nor on loan. He will recuperate from his injury here with us.”

Pato, who has been battling nagging thigh, ankle and groin injuries, turned down a €35 million deal (US$44.67 million) from Paris Saint-Germain in January. Pato, who joined AC Milan in 2007 as part of a €22 million (US$28.01 million) deal from Brazil’s Internacional, has scored 61 goals in 143 games for the squad.

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