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Nov 23, 2012

Brazil fires coach Mano Menezes

Brazil's soccer federation on Friday fired national team coach Mano Menezes with just a year and a half to go before the country hosts the World Cup in 2014.

The decision to fire Menezes was made during a meeting with federation president Jose Maria Marin and vice president Marco Polo del Nero.

Federation director Andres Sanchez said Marin made the change because he "wants new methods and new planning" ahead of the World Cup.

The federation said discussions to select the new coach will take place between Christmas and the New Year, with the announcement expected early in January.

Menezes was the target of criticism for the national team's style of play, despite recent victories in past months. Brazil has an automatic bid for World Cup 2014 and is playing friendlies to tune up en route to the tournament.

Menezes said on Twitter: "As it has been announced, I'm not the national coach anymore. My thanks to all the people who worked with me on this project, specially the players that were called up during this period and all those who believed in our work."

Menezes took over the reins in August 2010 after the World Cup in South Africa and has coached the team for friendlies and during the 2012 London Olympics, where Brazil lost to Mexico in the final.

Sanchez, who was the one to announce Menezes' sacking, criticized the move, saying: "I think this was not the time to make this call, it's giving up on the work done. But I understand the criteria. It's the president's decision and he wants different methods for the next year.

"He's a brave man, he's watching the future, so we have to respect him. Mano did a good job, even though he had tough times. He did not leave because of bad results. If the results were the key, he would have left the national team at the start of the year, not now. The president wants to change the methods of the national team from January."

The decision comes two days after Brazil won the Superclasico de las Americas against Argentina on penalties.

Brazil lost the second leg 2-1 in Buenos Aires but won on penalties in a tie that featured only players who play in the two countries' domestic leagues.

He could only guide Brazil to the quarterfinals of last year's Copa America, where it lost on penalties to Paraguay, missing all four spot kicks.

World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is one of the names touted to replace Menezes, but Sanchez said he doesn't think negotiations for a new coach are under way.

Former Brazil striker Romario and former defender Juliano Belletti both backed Scolari, who led the country to their last World Cup triumph, to take the reins.

"The best man is Felipe, no doubt about that. And I also believe that Andres Sanchez can't continue as general manager, Rai is the correct man for the job," Romario said.

Belletti added on Twitter: "The World Cup is only seven games, kill or be killed. Felipe is very good on that. He motivates you, and demands things from you."

Information from Efe News Agency and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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