Scolari picks Fernandinho for Brazil friendly

BY STEPHEN WADE AP Sports Writer Published:

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho was the surprise pick in a provisional Brazil squad for its final friendly next month before the World Cup squad is announced.

Neymar, Oscar, Ramires, Willian, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Hulk made the list of foreign-based players as expected, but former stars Kaka and Robinho were left out by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Kaka hasn't played for Brazil since March, but AC Milan teammate Robinho made the team in November.

Scolari also said that, closer to the match, he would add a further three or four players to the squad from Brazilian clubs.

Bayern Munich's Rafinha also came as a surprise selection for the game against South Africa on March 5 at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

"Fernandinho has been playing pretty well in Manchester and has been catching my attention,"Scolari said. "It's an opportunity for him. And Rafinha has been working pretty well at Bayern Munich. Both players have a history on the national youth teams."

Scolari also said he needed to prepare back-up players in case of injuries.

"I always have to take a look at other players because, the way tournaments are being played, we can never be sure that the players we imagine will be called up will be in their best condition when the (World Cup) squad is announced."

Scolari also said he has been scouting the Netherlands. If Brazil advances from the group stage, it is likely to meet World Cup champion Spain or the Netherlands in the round of 16.

"They have the normal characteristics of a Dutch team," he said. "They work the ball very well, have good quality skilled players ... We have been analyzing them, collecting data for a possible game at the second stage."

Scolari decided to wait to announce the players from Brazilian clubs because many are not in top form yet.

Among the players nursing injuries and trying to get in shape in the beginning of the Brazilian season was striker Fred, who was crucial for Brazil at the Confederations Cup last year.

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Brazil:

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (QPR)

Defenders: David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafinha (Bayern Munich).

Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Ramires (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea).

Strikers: Hulk (Zenit), Bernard (Shaktar Donetsk), Willian (Chelsea), Neymar (Barcelona).

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Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP