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Sao Paulo boss Dorival Junior to coach Brazil: club

Sao Paulo FC boss Dorival Junior will be the new coach of the Brazilian national team, the club said Sunday, after Fernando Diniz was fired from the five-time world champions following a string of losses.

“It’s a personal dream come true,” the 2023 Copa do Brasil-winning coach said in a statement posted by Sao Paulo on X, formerly Twitter, after days of speculation he would be named to take over struggling Brazil.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) did not immediately confirm the announcement.

Dorival, 61, coached Flamengo to two major titles in 2022 — the Copa do Brasil and Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of Europe’s Champions League — before joining Sao Paulo, where he continued to rack up trophies.

He takes over football powerhouse Brazil at a difficult moment.

Under Diniz, Brazil had racked up three straight losses in World Cup qualifiers, including a humiliating 1-0 loss at home to arch-rivals Argentina in November.

The “Selecao” have struggled with a series of injuries, notably to star Neymar, who went off with a torn knee ligament in a 2-0 loss to Uruguay in October and is expected to be sidelined for months.

Brazil are currently sixth in South America’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers, the last automatic qualifying spot from the continent.

The CBF has meanwhile been embroiled in a messy legal battle over its leadership that saw its president, Ednaldo Rodrigues, ousted from the job by a court ruling in December, only to be reinstated by a Supreme Court judge last week.

In the interim, Rodrigues’s bid to hire Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti to coach Brazil fell apart when the Italian renewed his contract with the Spanish giants.

‘Brazilian Guardiola’

Diniz, 49, who coached Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense to the 2023 Libertadores title, was hired for the Brazil job last July.

Fans had hoped his style, which focuses on improvisation and creativity, would restore the thrilling “samba football” Brazil are famous for, after the disappointment of two straight World Cup quarter-final exits under longtime coach Tite.

But Diniz, who remained coach of Fluminense, largely failed to replicate the attacking brilliance he has installed there, triggering criticism that splitting his time between the club and national team was too much.

Dorival, a nephew of legendary Palmeiras midfielder Dudu, comes with a vastly different style.

The veteran manager, who has had stints with some 20 clubs, took a sabbatical in 2015 to travel to Europe and observe coaching methods at Chelsea, Roma, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

At the latter, he spent a month learning from a man whose “positional play” has been described as the antithesis of Diniz’s style, coaching giant Pep Guardiola.

“He’s the Brazilian Pep Guardiola,” midfielder Thiago Maia, who played under Dorival at Santos, has said.

“He drew lots of inspiration from Bayern. He did an apprenticeship there and brought what he learned here.”

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