Canada prepare for Brazil test


Jim Jamieson, The Province

No Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, no Kaka.

That's six FIFA World Player of the Year awards between the Brazilian superstars, but don't think the globe's most-glamourous national team will be wanting for skill and magic Saturday night in Seattle, Washington, when it lines up with Canada in a friendly at Qwest Field.

Brazil coach Dunga has such a luxury of talent that he decided he didn't need a three-time winner (Ronaldo) in his lineup following a disappointing World Cup 2006 and isn't presently sure about two-time winner Ronaldinho.

Last year's winner Kaka is missing due to knee surgery.

The roster still includes midfielders Gilberto Silva (Arsenal) and Anderson (Manchester United); and forwards Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Robinho (Real Madrid) and Alexandre Pato (AC Milan). Pato, you may recall, played for Brazil at last summer's FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Burnaby, BC.

Brazil - No. 2 in the world behind Argentina - faces Canada (tied at No. 62 with Bosnia-Herzegovina) in the first of a two-game U.S. trip that concludes with a friendly with Venezuela in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on June 6.

Will Canada be intimidated?

"If you are in awe, you are in a little bit of trouble," says Canadian midfielder Dwayne de Rosario of Scarborough, Ontario.

"Hopefully, we go out there and not be in too much awe and watch them play around us (because) the next thing you know, we are in awe and five goals in the back of the net."

Coach Dale Mitchell says many of his squad have played against the Brazilians in club matches so "I don't think there is much of an intimidation factor."

Canada has a 0-1-2 record against Brazil, managing a 0-0 draw at the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup in Japan, and a 1-1 tie in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1994.

Mitchell & Co. will use the game and one June 4 against Panama in Florida as tune-ups for its two-game World Cup qualifying playoff with No. 145 St. Vincent & the Grenadines on June 15 and 20.

Canada needs a win in that series to advance to the next qualifying round for the World Cup.

Says Mitchell: "It's going to be a great way to gauge our players. It's made people come in and take the beginning of camp very seriously."

That's the good news. The bad is that Brazil will be taking the game seriously as well.

After the Venezuela game, they take on Paraguay and Argentina in World Cup qualifying in mid-June.

Says de Rosario, a two-time Canadian Soccer Association Player of the Year: "It's portrayed as a friendly, but there won't be anything friendly about it."

Mitchell's goalkeeper will be Pat Onstad of Vancouver, BC, or Greg Sutton of Hamilton, Ontario.