Adriano looks for revival, new role for Romario
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Striker Adriano will try to revive his career while Romario steps into a new role as coach in the new Brazilian season which kicks off on Wednesday.
Adriano has joined Brazilian champions Sao Paulo on a six-month loan from Inter Milan where, plagued by fitness and reported alcohol problems, he has barely featured in the last two seasons.
The powerhouse striker, once one of the most feared players in the world, has promised to turn over a new leaf.
Despite two incidents during the holidays, when he was photographed holding a beer can and then escaped unscathed from a late-night car crash, Adriano has looked impressive in training and has been given a vote of confidence by coach Muricy Ramalho.
'I have a lot of experience in helping players improve and that will certainly happen with Adriano here,' he said.
Sao Paulo visit Guaratingueta on Thursday in the Paulista championship, the biggest of the plethora of regional tournaments which kick off the season.
The tournaments act as little more than a warm-up for the Brazilian championship, which starts in late April, although they add up to 23 games to the fixture list for the major clubs.
The Paulista features 20 teams although only Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and Santos compete in Serie A of the Brazilian championship. Many of the others are barely more than semi-professional outfits.
Palmeiras, whose mercurial Chilean playmaker Jorge Valdivia has promised to be on his best behaviour, welcome back former Brazil and Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo for a fourth stint at the club.
They host Sertaozinho on Thursday.
Luxemburgo has joined from Santos, where he is replaced by Emerson Leao, another former Brazil coach. Leao's debut is at Portuguesa on Wednesday.
The Paulista also sees Corinthians in action for the first time since they were relegated to the Brazilian championship second division last year.
Coach Mano Menezes has accepted the challenge of trying to take them back to the top flight, a feat he achieved with Gremio in 2005.
Vasco da Gama start the season on Sunday when they host Madureira in the Carioca championship in Rio de Janeiro.
Romario, 41, has been taking charge of their training sessions but it is still not clear how he will coach the team during matches while serving a 120-day doping ban.
The former Brazil striker tested positive for the banned masking agent finasteride after playing in a Brazilian championship match last October, which he blamed on a hair-loss product he said he had been using.
Romario has still not officially retired and could even play in the Carioca if an appeal against the ban, due to be heard later this month, is successful.
As usual, the new season has been marked by the homecoming of several seasoned professionals who are in the twilight of their careers.
These include former Manchester United and Besiktas midfielder Kleberson, who has joined Flamengo.
The new trend of signing players from neighbouring countries has also continued with Colombia striker Edixon Perea joining Gremio from Girondins Bordeaux and experienced Ecuador defender Giovanny Espinoza moving to Cruzeiro from Vitesse Arnhem.