Dorival Junior downplays Brazil speculation after Flamengo's Copa Libertadores triumph

By Sports Desk October 29, 2022

Flamengo head coach Dorival Junior brushed off speculation linking him with replacing Tite as Brazil's boss following his side's Copa Libertadores triumph over Athletico Paranaense.

The Rubro-Negro clinched their third Copa Libertadores crown with Saturday's 1-0 victory over Athletico after Gabriel Barbosa's strike in the 45th minute.

The title comes less than a fortnight after Junior, who took over at Flamengo in June, guided the club to the Copa do Brasil crown

Junior has been linked with the Brazil head coaching role with Tite to vacate the position following the upcoming World Cup, with his latest piece of silverware boosting his case.

"It is very difficult to talk about hypotheses in my position," Junior told reporters after Saturday's triumph.

"My contract with Flamengo runs until the end of the year. My biggest prize would be to continue and continue the work.

"If there is a possibility [to be Brazil coach], it would be after the World Cup. You postulate a condition like that, but it's all still very distant and very vague.

"We have great professionals in the country, many respected, who also deserve an opportunity as the head of the national team. Tite is one of the great professionals in world football, at a very high level."

Instead the 60-year-old preferred to soak in the Copa Libertadores glory, praising goal scorer Gabriel Barbosa and tournament top scorer Pedro for their partnership.

Barbosa, who is known as 'Gabigol', was the 2019 Copa Libertadores top scorer when Flamengo also lifted the title, while he won the tournament's Best Player award last season when they lost the final to Palmeiras.

"It's a partnership that completes each other," Junior said. "It was no different than what I imagined in my head. I had no doubt that they could play together, with a closer relationship between them.

"Gabriel did not completely change his role. There was an alternation of movement and attacks in the last line. They know how to do this like no one else, a very great harmony.

"That small change made a difference… Perhaps Gabriel's contribution was even greater than what he had in 2019."

Flamengo's Copa campaign included 13 games, with 12 wins, one draw and 33 goals scored. Dorival Junior's side only conceded two goals in the knockout stages.

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