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Tricky opponents await Brazil, Italy in Confederations Cup

World champions Italy play the United States in Pretoria while Brazil take on the African champions Egypt in Bloemfontein at the start of the Group…

World champions Italy play the United States in Pretoria while Brazil take on the African champions Egypt in Bloemfontein at the start of the Group B campaign.

Brazil, who won the World Cup test event in Germany four years ago, are not expected to tinker with the team that garnered six more points in World Cup qualifying over the last week.

Wins over Uruguay and Paraguay have put Brazil on the brink of securing qualification for the 2010 tournament and despite the continuing exertions for most of his squad at the end of a long European season, coach Dunga suggested he was not about to offer any rest to key players

“If you completely change the structure of the team, then the new players will not have to same confidence and the same support,” he told reporters in Bloemfontein.

Egypt will be hoping to catch the Brazilians fatigued with coach Hassan Shehata insisting his side had the right credentials for a surprise result.

“We are also a big team now and shouldn’t be afraid of our opponents. We have managed to win the Nations Cup six times, the last two in a row,” Shehata said.

“The Egyptian team is now used to playing against big teams. In the past year, we have played several friendly matches against teams like Argentina, Spain and Portugal.”

Italy, who have already had a warm-up international in South Africa, will be without World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, who has a calf strain.

They also continue to battle with the effects of the high altitude in Pretoria and midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has complained about the lack of recovery time during matches.

“It means we are going to have to play a little more compact. It is something we are really struggling deal with,” he told reporters after a 6-0 win over a local selection in Pretoria on Friday.

Their Americans opponents have twice before reached the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup, and are also comfortably placed to again qualify for the World Cup finals.