International friendly preview wrap: Ronaldo prepares for farewell

With one eye on their impending Copa America defence, Brazil bid farewell to a legend in a friendly against Romania on Tuesday.Veteran striker Ronaldo will don the green and yellow shirt for one final time at the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paolo, bringing an end to his celebrated career.

The 34-year-old won two World Cups with Brazil in 1994 and 2002 and has scored 62 goals in 97 appearances on the international stage.

He retired from professional football in February, saying his ailing body had finally failed him after an 18-year career that yielded 352 goals from 517 appearances, though his stature in Brazil has afforded him an almost unheard-of international farewell.

But while fans will be saying goodbye to one of football’s greatest-ever players, Brazil coach Mano Menezes will be busy making some final arrangements ahead of the Copa America.

Brazil are the defending champions at the quadrennial tournament and will start as one of the favourites alongside host nation Argentina – who they defeated in the 2007 final – next month.

Menezes will be forced into at least one change from the side that drew 0-0 with the Netherlands on Saturday, with Chelsea midfielder Ramires unavailable after collecting two cautions in that match.

His absence could open the door for Sao Paulo playmaker Lucas or Tottenham’s Sandro to start against Romania.

Elsewhere, Japan will look to build on their Kirin Cup defence with a match against Czech Republic in Niigata.

The Blue Samurai maintained their unbeaten run under Alberto Zaccheroni with a 0-0 draw with Peru in the opening match of the three-nation tournament.

They have not lost since being knocked out of the 2010 World Cup by Paraguay last June.

Czech Republic also drew 0-0 with Peru in their opening match of the tournament, which Japan have not lost since 2007.

In other friendlies, Australia will look to build on their 3-0 defeat of New Zealand when Serbia visit Melbourne, while Ghana take a break from qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations to face South Korea.

Roman Pavlyuchenko, who scored a hat-trick against Armenia on Saturday, will be hoping for more of the same when Russia host Cameroon, while Greece have a 10-game unbeaten run of their own to protect when they travel to Ecuador.

Finally, Austria will look to turn around a five-match losing streak against Latvia, Paraguay and Bolivia square off in Ciudad del Este and Norway host Lithuania.

 


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