SAO PAULO (AFP) – Brazil on Thursday officially announced Luiz Felipe Scolari as their coach to lead them through to the 2014 World Cup finals on home soil, replacing Mano Menezes, sacked last week.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) named 2002 World Cup winner Scolari for a second spell at the helm as he targets a sixth world title with the auriverde in 18 months time, using next year’s Confederations Cup, also in Brazil, as a springboard.
Carlos Alberto Parreira, who managed Brazil’s successful 1994 World Cup campaign in the United States, will serve as Scolari’s technical assistant.
“Our sole commitment is to seek out and offer the best for our football and it is in this vein that we have chosen these two great champions, respected not just in our country but worldwide — Felipe Scolari and Carlos Alberto Parreira,” CBF president Jose Maria Marin told a news conference.
Marin had coyly avoided naming Scolari on Wednesday even as the media plastered the image of the 64-year-old all over newspaper front pages, while saying the CBF wanted “someone who can face up to the pressure of the post.”
That pressure — and inveterate impatience at the CBF to say nothing of demanding fans — ensured Menezes was a dead man walking after Brazil lost the chance to end their Olympic gold medal duck in losing the London Games final to Mexico.
Scolari is available after recently parting company with Palmeiras last September — the team were later relegated.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in Sao Paulo for the unveiling of the Ballon d’Or shortlist, welcomed the appointment.
“I am very happy with the decision taken by the CBF. This is a must (the unveiling of a successor to Menezes) as Brazil is preparing not only the World Cup but the Confederations Cup.”
Former star Ronaldo, whose goals landed the 2002 World Cup title, added: “Congratulations to him. It’s a great challenge for him.”
The decision to bring him back has sparked differing responses from ex-stars, including Zico and Carlos Alberto.
Zico, who on Wednesday resigned as coach of the Iraqi national team blaming a dispute over his contract, favoured the move.
He said before the official announcement: “Felipao (Scolari) has won so many titles he has to be respected — and the two of them together have international experience and competence so I can only wish them luck.”
Former skipper Carlos Alberto, who lifted the 1970 World Cup after starring in the Pele-inspired 4-1 thrashing of Italy, struck a note of discord, however.
“I don’t know that this is Felipao’s moment. He won in 2002 — but that was 2002! This year he bombed out at Palmeiras.”
The CBF sacked Mano Menezes last week after just two years in the job, with the Selecao having lost in the quarter-finals of last year’s Copa America before the Olympic disappointment.
The five-times world champions are eager that the new man should use the Confederations Cup to blood new stars ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
In his first stint as Brazil manager, Scolari was forgiven for a pale Confederations Cup showing in 2001 after he led the Selecao to the World Cup win in Japan the following year.
He later coached Portugal and led them to the final of Euro 2004 on home soil before a disastrous spell with Chelsea in 2008.
Despite former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola being linked with the job, Marin said he wanted a Brazilian.
“We won five (world) titles with them. That’s why it would be very difficult to call in a foreigner,” A Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted Marin as saying on Tuesday.
Parreira insisted earlier in the week that everyone should get behind Scolari, telling Brazilian media: “It’s time to put other problems aside and focus on winning the World Cup.”
Those “other problems” include in-fighting at the CBF, where Marin and former selections chief Andres Sanchez were in open conflict after the latter said the organisation was wrong to sack Menezes.