Brazil Still Without Julio Cesar
JOHANNESBURG — Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar missed practice for the second day in a row as he recovers from a back injury, and starting left back Michel Bastos left training Friday with a right ankle problem.
Michel Bastos injured his ankle in a battle for the ball with midfielder Elano. He tried to keep playing but eventually left the field on his own. Brazil team doctor Jose Luiz Runco confirmed the injury but said it wasn’t a concern.
While the rest of Brazil’s players trained on Friday, Julio Cesar underwent intensive physiotherapy treatment at the team’s hotel. He also missed the team’s training in Soweto on Thursday.
Julio Cesar fell awkwardly and injured his back in the team’s 3-0 win over Zimbabwe on Wednesday in Harare.
Doctors say the injury is not serious and should not keep the goalkeeper from playing in Brazil’s World Cup opener against North Korea on June 15.
It wasn’t clear, however, if the Inter Milan player would be available for Brazil’s last warmup, against Tanzania on Monday in Dar es Salaam.
“It’s not a big problem,” coach Dunga said. “In two or three days, he will be back to normal.”
Tottenham goalkeeper Gomes replaced Julio Cesar halfway through the match against Zimbabwe and played well. Brazil’s third goalkeeper is AS Roma’s Doni.
Julio Cesar enters the World Cup as one of Brazil’s top players after helping Inter win all three competitions it played this season — the Champions League, Serie A and the Italian Cup.
Two other Brazilian players arrived in South Africa nursing injuries, Kaka and Julio Baptista, but both have guaranteed they also will be ready to play against North Korea. Kaka and Luis Fabiano didn’t play the entire match against Zimbabwe as both have left thigh injuries.
It also wasn’t clear if Michel Bastos would play against Tanzania. He scored his first international goal from a powerful free kick against Zimbabwe.
“We are not expecting any problems,” Brazilian football confederation spokesman Rodrigo Paiva said.
Julio Cesar has 81 international appearances with Brazil, helping the team win the 2004 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup.
The 30-year-old Julio Cesar was Brazil’s third goalkeeper at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when Brazil was eliminated by France in the quarterfinals.
After debuting against the Koreans, Brazil will face Ivory Coast and then Portugal in what appears to be a difficult Group G. Brazil is trying to win a record sixth World Cup title. It won the Confederations Cup in South Africa last year. (AP)