SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Kaka is back on the Brazilian national team for the first time since the 2010 World Cup.
The 30-year-old former FIFA Player of the Year was made part of a 23-man squad for next month’s friendlies with Iraq and Japan, according to Agence France-Presse. The soccer star hasn’t played with the national team since the 2-1 quarter-finals when Brazil defeated the Netherlands in the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
“It's important to have players with experience,” said coach Mano Menezes who insisted Kaka will be among the “leaders” of the young Brazilian team. "We think that he will come here and show that he has improved. We know that this season will be key for him so we can start counting on him as a national team player again in the future."
On Wednesday, scored three goals with Real Madrid in the team’s 8-0 win in a friendly against Colombia’s Millionarios in Madrid, reported the Associated Press. Menezes said he decided to make Kaka a part of the national team again based on his determination to regain his place as a starter with Real. The coach also said he plans to start the player alongside Oscar in at least one of the upcoming friendlies.
Menezes has been criticized for his coaching lately, the AP noted. A crowd at a recent match loudly chanted "Goodbye, Mano" and "Come back, Felipão," referring to former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title.