Originally: Brazil gears up ‘A’ team for upcoming friendly match vs. Haiti

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) — Brazil won’t hold its punches in a soccer friendly with Haiti this month — even if it means disobeying a presidential request.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reportedly asked the defending World Cup champions not to run up the score in the game Aug. 18 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.
“Lula asked us not to win by too much to avoid spoiling the party,” Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation, said in an interview with the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper Wednesday.

But the team showed no intention of taking it easy on Haiti in a warmup for the 2006 World Cup qualifiers that resume next month.

Brazil’s coach Carlos Alberto Parreira on Tuesday summoned 18 players of his “A” team, including World Cup stars Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Cafu and Roberto Carlos.

Fully eight players were on the team that won a record fifth World Cup title in 2002. Five others starred on the Brazilian squad that won the Copa America last month.

The friendly is billed as “the game of peace” in violence-torn Haiti. Fans will be invited to swap guns for tickets, part of a campaign to disarm warring factions.

Soccer is a key to Brazil’s peace-keeping drive. In May, Brazilian troops arrived in Haiti as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission and handed out soccer balls to children.

“Our army, our armed forces, will be the 18 players,” the Soccer Confederation’s Teixeira said. “We are absolutely sure we’ll have no security problems. It will be a beautiful party in Haiti.”

President Silva is expected to attend, Brazil’s official news agency said.

Haitians indicated they expect Brazil’s stars to score — and welcomed the prospect.

“The more goals, the bigger our festival,” Haitian soccer official Pierre Rigaud told O Estado de S. Paulo “To see Ronaldo and Ronaldinho Gaucho up close will be a carnival like Port-au-Prince has never seen.”

Brazil and Haiti have played only twice — and Brazil won by a large margin both times.

In 1959, Brazil crushed Haiti 9-1 in the Pan-American Games in Chicago. In 1974, Brazil’s victory was a more modest 4-0 under coach Mario Zagallo, who remains the team’s supervisor.