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Brazil confirms hiring of Dorival Junior as new national team coach

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

The Brazilian soccer confederation said Junior 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.

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

Junior 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 Junior 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 its 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.

Junior'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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