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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

FIFA U-17 World Cup: Vinicius Junior pull-out blow for Brazil’s title hopes

Vinicius Junior won’t be able to play at the FIFA U-17 World Cup after his club Flamengo refused to release him for the tournament

fifa-u17-world-cup-2017 Updated: Sep 30, 2017 22:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Vinicius Junior won’t be part of the Brazil squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Vinicius Junior won’t be part of the Brazil squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.(NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The news that Vinicius Junior has not been released by his club Flamengo comes as a blow for Brazil, who are among the favourites for the Fifa U-17 World Cup starting on October 6.

Vinicius, who will be joining Real Madrid next year, played a pivotal role in the Selecao winning the South American Championship.

A Brazilian team official confirmed to Hindustan Times that Vinicius won’t be coming to India. Their federation also put out a statement on their website regretting Flamengo’s decision to not release the 17-year-old.

READ | England aim to cap glorious year at FIFA U-17 World Cup

Big hole upfront

Vinicius’ absence creates a headache for Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu, who like other members of the squad, was awaiting the arrival of his star player on Saturday. The other issue worrying Amadeu is the fitness of another key player, Paulinho, who’s nursing an ankle injury and didn’t feature in the warm-up game against New Zealand on Thursday.

Paulinho hasn’t been training with the team as well, working on the sidelines with the physio to get his ankle back in shape before the tournament starts. Brazil face Spain in their opening game in Kochi on October 7.

The way the Brazilians have gone about their business, no one thought Vinicius won’t come. Their practice sessions since their arrival in Mumbai have centred around getting their passing right in the midfield and sorting out defensive frailties.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Indian football team gets boost ahead of mega-event

Alan Souza will miss partner

Brazil’s midfield lynchpin Alan de Souza Guimaraes was also awaiting the arrival of Vinicius and would be disappointed. The Palmeiras player had told Hindustan Times on Friday: “I like to play with Vinicius. He gives me lot of options when I line up my passes. During the South American Championship I assisted him for many goals and he is the one player I’m expecting to see soon. We like to play together.”

So, what options Amadeu has with Vinicius not arriving? He has Brenner and Yuri Alberto. While Brenner scored both the goals against New Zealand in the 2-1 win, he likes to play on the left wing and cut back occasionally. Alberto too featured in that match, taking up Vinicius’ position, but is no match to the Madrid-bound player.

READ | FIFA U-17 World Cup: Ghana are the best team, claims coach Paa Kwesi Fabin

Brazil federation unhappy

According to Brazilian website, in early September the national federation had approached three clubs — Flamengo, Sao Paulo and Vasco da Gama — seeking the availability of their players Vinicius, Brenner and Paulinho respectively, all professionals. While Sao Paulo and Vasco gave assurance they will release their players, Flamengo weren’t that keen.

“I told the board of directors of Flamengo that I don’t agree with their decision and I am deeply disappointed,” Brazil Football Association national team co-ordinator Edu Gaspar, told

First Published: Sep 30, 2017 22:46 IST