ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) - Brazil and Iran will meet for the first time Thursday in an exhibition soccer match in Abu Dhabi.
Coach Mano Menezes has assembled a young squad for the game at Zayed Sports City. Barcelona defender Daniel Alves and AC Milan forwards Robinho and Alexandre Pato will provide the star power.
Iran’s soccer federation has long had hopes of a match against the five-time world champion. The exhibition was confirmed on Sept. 28.
Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi has described it as a “wonderful match for all Iranians as well as people in all Persian Gulf countries.”
“Playing Brazil will measure our abilities,” he said. “Iran will put up a good performance against Brazil.”
Iran’s players can expect some fan support, with about 400,000 Iranians living in the United Arab Emirates.
Brazil is in a transitional phase following a disappointing quarterfinal defeat to the Netherlands at the World Cup and the departure of coach Dunga.
Former Corinthians manager Menezes replaced him, guiding his team to a 2-0 victory over the United States in August in his first game. After four years under Dunga’s conservative style, Menezes was lauded in his homeland for adopting a more creative approach against the U.S.
Brazil also will face Ukraine in an exhibition Monday in England.
However, Brazil may not have an easy task against Iran. Several Brazilian players commented on the oppressive heat in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s very hot here,” midfielder Giuliano told Globoesporte’s website. “It feels like I’m in a sauna.”
Ghotbi has an experienced squad to choose from, led by the 122-capped midfielder Javad Nekounam, who plays for Osasuna in Spain’s La Liga.