SPORTS

Rivaldo misses selection

Olympiakos star player Rivaldo’s hopes of an international comeback were put on hold yesterday after he failed to make it into Brazil’s squad for a World Cup qualifier in Ecuador next month. Brazil also dropped midfielder Alex from the squad. Rivaldo, who said this month that he was hoping for a recall after resuming his career with Olympiakos over the summer, was not included. Alex, who plays for Turkey’s Fenerbahce, was left out following his ineffective performance in the goal-less draw at home to Colombia last month. The left-footed midfielder, enormously gifted but with a reputation for drifting out of matches, was substituted in the second half after starting the game in place of suspended AC Milan midfielder Kaka. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said he had preferred to select Julio Baptista for the match in Quito, which will be played at 2,800 meters above sea level, because the Sevilla players was physically stronger. «I had three for the same position, Julio Baptista, [Porto midfielder] Diego and Alex,» Parreira said. «But we decided to select Julio as the game will be in Quito.» Parreira recalled full back Gilberto, who plays for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin, and French-based midfielder Dudu Cearense, but there were no major surprises in the squad. Brazil, unbeaten after 10 games, lead the 10-nation South American World Cup group with 20 points and are keen to avoid a repeat of the shock 1-0 defeat they suffered on their last visit to Ecuador in 2001. «It’s a complicated game because of the altitude and the opposition,» said Parreira. «We’ve planned this very well so that the altitude interferes as little as possible. This is a very important game for the team to finish the year on a high and start 2005 in good spirits. There are no surprises, all these players have been picked by me before.» (Reuters, Kathimerini)