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Ronaldo faces strong competition at national team

SPLIT, Croatia (AP) _ World champion Brazil has never been short on goalscoring prowess. Perhaps it's time for another change at the tip of its attack.

Real Madrid's Ronaldo exercises at a pre-season Real Madrid's training camp in the Austrian town of Irdning August 5, 2005. [Reuters]
Ronaldo, rested for two World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup, faces stiff competition for the No. 9 jersey when he returns to the national team in a friendly against Croatia on Wednesday.

Inter Milan scoring machine Adriano and Real Madrid's exciting new signing, Robinho, helped Brazil win the Confederations Cup in Ronaldo's absence two months ago.

That prompted notions that the once untouchable star could be in danger of losing his position to a new generation.

The former FIFA player of the year recently said he had recovered from a bout of fatigue and had no intention of relinquishing his mantle up front.

"To play for Selecao is a big honor and a player has to be in top form to earn his spot on the team," Ronaldo said Tuesday. "I know I have to prove myself as there are always good players coming through the ranks, like Adriano, Kaka and Robinho."

The match against Croatia could be an ideal occasion to demonstrate to the critics and coach Carlos Alberto Parriera that he is still the top dog in the canary yellow outfit.

Croatia will be looking to maintain momentum as the European qualifications for the 2006 World Cup head into the closing stages.

The Croats are undefeated in Group 8 and lead with 16 points, one ahead of Sweden and six ahead of Hungary. Bulgaria is third on 8 points. Iceland and Malta have one point each.

Brazil hopes to guarantee its berth in next year's World Cup in Germany with a victory over Chile in South American qualifications on September 4.

Parriera announced that he would field two strikers against Croatia and experiment in the absence of Ronaldinho and Roque Junior, who were left out of the Brazil squad because they are suspended from the upcoming match against Chile.

The Brazilian press speculated that that meant a three-pronged offense, combining Adriano and Robinho with Ronaldo.

Parriera also called up new players, Ricardinho of Santos, defender Alex of PSV Eindhoven and goalie Julio Cesar of Inter Milan.

Eduardo da Silva, a naturalized Croat, will try to overcome split loyalties against the country of his birth.

The 22-year-old striker has been making a name for himself with Croatian league leader, Dinamo Zagreb, and is expected to get a run against his former compatriots.

Croatia coach Zlatko Kranjcar has also been trying to coax another South American into his lineup. Argentine-born Danel Bilos, who plays for Boca Juniors, will miss the match against Brazil, but was reportedly still considering which country to play for.

Glasgow Rangers striker Dado Prso opted to appease club officials who wanted him to miss the friendly against Brazil due to concerns that he might aggravate a knee injury and jeopardize his league season.

Kranjcar was riled by the decision.

"It's hard not to feel emotionally affected when someone chooses club over country," he said.
sometime it is good to get other new faces.
no one is irreplaceable. Razz

brazil has many youngster waiting to replace him.. don't worry. Razz
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