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Boys from Brazil chase South African gold

Elano Brazil International June 2009

Elano Brazil International June 2009

City's players will soon start preparing for the chase for glory next season - but they might find that two of their team-mates have already got a medal to show off when pre-season training kicks in next month.

Robinho and Elano are key men in the Brazil side that start among the favourites to lift the Confederations Cup in South Africa despite facing star-studded opposition from the likes of Spain and world champions Italy.

Copa America holders Brazil open their campaign against African champions Egypt in Bloemfontein on Monday with spirits high on the back of two World Cup qualifying wins this week, Robi scoring in the key 2-1 win over Paraguay.

With a return trip to South Africa next summer now just one more victory away - they next face Argentina in Buenos Aires - Robi & Co turn their attention to enjoying the "appetizer" of FIFA's festival of champions.

Brazil skipper Lucio, whose team head their giant World Cup qualifying group, said: "We're going to fight for the title, that's our goal. We respect all the other teams but our objective is to win the tournament.

"Even though this is a different competition, the two qualifying wins were very important. These results put us in the best possible frame of mind for the matches ahead."

Team-mate Kaka added: "We're arriving off two great victories so we're motivated and full of confidence."

Robinho, as ever, will be under orders to bamboozle defenders and deliver goals. Coach Dunga said: "Brazil must always play to win. Even at the end of the season, the players' mentality must always be focused on winning."

Brazil follow the opener against Egypt with a tie against CONCACAF Gold Cup holders USA on Thursday before a heavyweight final Group B duel with Italy three days later. European champions Spain are in the other group.

Lucio said: "We're not the hot favourites, but we have a lot of strength and ability. The Confederations Cup is a short tournament so mental preparation is important. The team who are the best prepared will be crowned champions."

Hosts South Africa, using the 16-match tournament as a dry run for next summer's World Cup, kick off the prestige event on Sunday against Iraq at Ellis Park, Johannesburg. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "This Cup, one year before the big event, is crucial."

City will contest the Vodacom Challenge against Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs next month. Robinho and Elano will hope their quick return visit conjures happy memories of lifting the Cup at Ellis Park on June 28.

 

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