SAINT-DENIS (France): Perhaps only five-time World Cup winners Brazil could be confident while missing Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos.
After a light practice session on Monday at the Stade de France, where Brazil will play Cameroon tomorrow in their opening match of the Confederations Cup, two of the team's other stars and recently returned coach Carlos Alberto Parreira declared that all is well for the South American powerhouse.
Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos are skipping the eight-nation tournament while their club team – Real Madrid – close out their Spanish league season, and Rivaldo has decided to rest after a mentally tough season at AC Milan.
“We know Brazil always have quality and we always have a lot of players, so it's not a problem,'' AS Roma midfielder Emerson said.
If all goes as planned, Emerson will finally wear the captain's armband in a major international tournament for the first time since he was injured and ruled out of last year's World Cup.
Parreira, who coached Brazil to their fourth World Cup victory in 1994 before regaining control of the “Selecao'' again earlier this year, said his team were well-equipped to handle the pressure that came with Brazil's fifth title last year, even without many of their top players.
“There is always pressure, but this is a team that is always capable of responding to these circumstances,'' he said.
Brazil defeated Nigeria 3-0 at the African team's home stadium last Wednesday, just 24 hours after getting together.
“I really love what my team did, how they played,'' Parreira said. “They played great football despite the short period of time we were there.
“The Confederations Cup is a great opportunity for this young team to develop. It's a good competition and a great stage for such a young team.''
Paris Saint-Germain's 23-year-old striker Ronaldinho has quickly assumed a leading role on the squad, a position he's comfortable with.
“I feel honoured,'' he said. “I'm happy with the new guys. They've proven they have good technique. It's a very young team, but it doesn't really matter. They've injected energy and enthusiasm and they've adopted very well.''
Ronaldinho's possible transfer is again one of the hottest topics of the summer, yet the player himself said he only has one thing on his mind at the moment.
“I'm not thinking about the future now, only the national team,'' he said. “That's my main worry right now. Everything's great; all the preparations are going smoothly.''
Positioned just behind strikers Gil and Adriano in what appeared to be Parreira's 4-3-2-1 starting line-up at practice on Monday, Ronaldhino scored one of two goals in an intra-squad scrimmage. Adriano, coming off a spectacular season at Parma in the Italian league, scored the other.
Team officials said the only injury worry involved backup forward Luis Fabiano, who has a slight leg muscle pull.
In goal, Dida showed signs he still has the form that he displayed in AC Milan's penalty shootout victory against Juventus in the Champions Cup final late last month.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper seems ready to take on a starting role for Brazil.
“We're all happy for him,'' Emerson said. “At the beginning (in Milan) he was criticised a lot by everyone. We who know him well have always known he's great.
“It wasn't just the Champions League. Someone who's born a champion is always a champion.''
Dida and Ronaldinho figure well into Parreira's plans of moulding a team for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
“This tournament will really help me to form a nucleus base of players for the (World Cup) qualifying, try new tactics,'' the coach said.
Besides Cameroon, Brazil's group includes Turkey and the US. – AP