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Brazil v Ecuador: Dunga´s new generation looking to star

A new generation of Brazil players are looking to star as Dunga’s side kick-off their Copa America Centenario campaign in Pasadena against Ecuador on Saturday. 

While Dunga has plenty of young prospects ready to prove themselves on the international stage, the Brazil coach has had to contend with a number of dropouts from his initial squad. 

Douglas Costa, Kaka, Luiz Gustavo, Rafinha, Ricardo Oliveira and Ederson have all left the 23-man squad due to injury or personal reasons in recent weeks, while fitness concerns remain over defender Miranda. 

Dunga has covered those losses with a blend of youth and experience, drafting in the likes of Wallace, Ganso, Jonas and Lucas Moura. 

It is clear the 52-year-old has one eye on the future, with Gabriel, Rodrigo Caio and Douglas Santos looking to establish themselves as regulars in the senior set-up.

But along with the Copa America, Dunga will be looking towards the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where Brazil are searching for their first gold medal.

Barcelona star Neymar has been rested for special-edition Copa, held in the United States, to stay fresh for the Games, while a number of Brazil’s Under-23 players will be looking to stake their claim for a spot in the squad for Rio. 

“Obviously we’d like to have Neymar here, but this is a top team,” Dunga said.

“Some of them are very young, but they have quality. This is an opportunity for these players to show they deserve to be on the first team.”

Ecuador are expected to progress from Group B alongside Brazil, with Peru and Haiti considered the underdogs.

However, Gustavo Quinteros’ side have had to deal with an under-par training pitch in the lead-up to the tournament and the Ecuador coach is hoping it does not affect their preparations. 

“The pitch was in bad shape. [On Wednesday] we found it filled with water, so we could not train. The FEF [Ecuadorian Football Federation], on its own, is seeking another pitch for rent and we can meet the work schedule privately,” he told El Universo.

“Unfortunately we had to change everything planned. This will not affect the preparation of the players, but it bothers us.”

Brazil have failed to find top form at the past two Copas, bowing out in the quarter-finals. Before that they had won four of the previous five editions.

Ecuador, meanwhile, have never managed better than fourth place, and were hosts on both occasions they achieved that feat.

Fri 3 Jun, 2016
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