Brazil confirm hiring of Dorival Júnior as new national team coach Loop Jamaica

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Coach Dorival Junior of Brazil’s Flamengo smiles prior a Copa Libertadores semifinal first leg football match, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug. 31, 2022. Brazil’s soccer confederation confirmed Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, that it has named Júnior as the new national team coach. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello, File).

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil has hired Dorival Júnior as its new national football team coach.

The Brazilian soccer confederation said Júnior will be introduced at a news conference on Thursday. He had been expected to take up the post after leaving his role as Sao Paulo coach on Sunday.

Júnior will replace Fernando Diniz, who was fired last week amid poor results and a political crisis at Brazil’s soccer body.

Júnior and his former club São Paulo FC announced on Sunday that he was leaving to take over the national team, calling it “a dream come true.”

The hiring of a new Brazil new coach was delayed after the death of World Cup great Mario Zagallo early Saturday.

Brazil’s soccer confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues had hoped to hire Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti to coach the team for the 2026 World Cup, but the Italian extended his contract with the Spanish giants in December.

The 61-year-old Júnior has been a manager for two decades, but his biggest triumphs have come recently. He won the Copa Libertadores title with Flamengo in 2022 and last year led São Paulo to their first Brazilian Cup trophy. His players say he is calm, adaptable and keen on having well-balanced teams.

He also worked with Neymar at Santos early on in the striker’s career, 14 years ago.

Júnior’s first challenges with Brazil will come in March, in friendlies against England and Spain.

Brazil is currently in sixth position with seven points in South American World Cup qualifying after six matches. The top six teams will qualify directly for the tournament to be played in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

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