Ronaldinho Hunts Elusive Olympic Title

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — Ronaldinho wants to play for Brazil at the 2012 Olympics to try to win one of the few titles he still doesn’t have.

The 31-year-old playmaker has regained his spot in the national team after returning to Brazilian football at the beginning of the year and wants to be in the squad in London.

“My dream is to win the gold medal in the Olympics,” Ronaldinho said after Brazil’s 2-0 win over Argentina in a friendly late Wednesday in the northern jungle city of Belem. “It’s a title still missing in my career.”

Ronaldinho has won the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, the Champions League, the Copa America, the FIFA Club World Cup and several other major titles, but not the Olympics.

Ronaldinho has played twice in the tournament, but without great success. He was a starter in the team eliminated by Cameroon in the quarter-finals of the 2000 Sydney Games, and failed to get past a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Games. Brazil did not qualify for the 2004 Athens Games.

The two-time FIFA player of the year said playing in London will help him get in position to make the team for the 2014 World Cup.

“I want to go step by step,” said Ronaldinho, who will be 34 when Brazil hosts football’s showcase tournament in three years. “Being in the Olympics will help me get to the World Cup, which is my ultimate goal.”

The Olympic tournament is played with under-23 squads but each team can use up to three players older than 23. Ronaldinho was one of those picks in the Beijing Games, when Brazil lost to Argentina in the semi-finals and had to settle for bronze.

The Olympics is the only major football tournament Brazil has yet to win.

Ronaldinho played well in Brazil’s victory over Argentina on Wednesday, when young stars Lucas and Neymar scored a goal each in the second half to help the Brazilians clinch the Superclassic of the Americas title, a home-and-away series between the South American football powerhouses. The teams, using domestic players only, drew 0-0 two weeks ago in the first leg at Cordoba, Argentina.

“It’s great to be able to play with these youngsters,” Ronaldinho said. “Neymar, Lucas and these other young players are the future of the national team. I’m here to help them with my experience and I think it’s working.”

Ronaldinho helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, but disappointed in the 2006 tournament in Germany, being eliminated by France in the quarter-finals. The former Barcelona star did not make the team for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Source: Associated Press

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