RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Aug 22 – New Brazil head coach Tite on Monday named five uncapped players in his first 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia in September.
With several Europe-based players deemed not fit enough, Tite has turned to youth with Gabriel Jesus, Taison, Rafael Carioca, Fagner, and goalkeeper Weverton the players selected who are yet to play senior international football.
Manchester City close-season signing Jesus, who is currently back on loan at former club Palmeiras, and Weverton, who made a crucial save in the penalty shoot-out victory over Germany in the Olympic final last week, are two of seven Rio gold medallists included.
Barcelona forward Neymar, who scored the winning spot-kick at the Maracana as Brazil’s youngsters banished the memories of their 7-1 semi-final humiliation at the hands of Germany in the 2014 World Cup, has been told by club coach Luis Enrique that he can stay in Brazil until after the qualifiers.
Former captain Thiago Silva, who has not played for his country since the 2015 Copa America, is expected to be recalled by Tite, but missed out on this occasion with a thigh injury.
The 55-year-old coach sprung a surprise by selecting Guangzhou Evergrande’s Paulinho, whom he worked with at Corinthians before the midfielder left for English outfit Tottenham Hotspur.
Five-time world champions Brazil are struggling to qualify for the 2018 edition in Russia, and are in sixth place in the South American standings after six matches.
They take on Ecuador in Quito on September 1, before facing Colombia five days later in Manaus.
Goalkeepers: Alisson Becker (Roma/ITA), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Weverton (Atletico Paranaense)
Defenders: Gil (Shandong Luneng/CHN), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA), Miranda (Inter Milan/ITA), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Dani Alves (Juventus/ITA), Fagner (Corinthians), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Marcelo (Real Madrid/ESP)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid/ESP), Giuliano (Zenit St Petersburg/RUS), Lucas Lima (Santos), Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande/CHN), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool/ENG), Rafael Carioca (Atletico Mineiro), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan/CHN), Willian (Chelsea/ENG)
Forwards: Gabriel Barbosa (Santos), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City/ENG – on loan at Palmeiras), Neymar (Barcelona/ESP), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR)
Head coach: Tite