Ronaldo on the sidelines as Brazil season starts
Brazilian football's biggest signing will be sitting on the sidelines as the new
season kicks off in earnest this week.
Ronaldo, who joined Corinthians in a shock move last month, is still struggling
to regain match fitness after recovering from a long-term knee injury he
suffered last February.
The 32-year-old, who previously played for AC Milan and is determined to
resurrect his career which has been in freefall since the 2006 World Cup, has
not yet set a date for his debut.
"It's best not to make a prediction," he said at the weekend. "I don't want to
go onto the pitch overweight with different strength in each leg. I have to be
100 percent ready."
"The improvement has been very good in the last 15 days and in a short time I
will be on the pitch, where I belong," he added.
Ronaldo has not played domestic football in his homeland since he left as a
17-year-old in 1994 to join Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
Corinthians kick off on Thursday with a home fixture against Barueri in the
Paulista championship, one of the plethora of regional competitions which serve
as a warm-up for the national championship.
Once he is fit, Ronaldo's presence could galvanise the Brazilian game which is
sadly devoid of big names.
Unable to match the wages paid in Europe, Brazil has turned into an exporter of
players who find even the less fashionable leagues of the Middle East and
Eastern Europe more enticing than their homeland.
Those who remain fall into three categories; the youngsters who have yet to be
sold abroad, veterans in their mid 30s returning for a final fling and the
journeymen who are not good enough or lucky enough to earn a move.
Ronaldo is one of the younger of some former Brazilian World Cup players who are
will be playing the Paulista and Carioca tournaments.
Former Barcelona midfielder Giovanni, 37, and ex-Werder Bremen defender Junior
Baiano, 39, who both played in Brazil's 1998 World Cup team, will be appearing
for unfashionable Mogi Mirim and Volta Redonda respectively.
Marcos, goalkeeper in Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning team will play for
Palmeiras at the age of 35 while Viola, a striker in the 1994 squad, will turn
out for modest Resende at the age of 40.
Palmeiras are away to Santo Andre on Wednesday in the Paulista championship, the
same day that Brazilian champions Sao Paulo host Ituano at the Morumbi.
The state competitions, which date back to the days before air travel was
commonplace, remain a controversial part of the Brazilian season.
Critics say they are outdated, uncompetitive and turn the season into an
The teams in the Paulista tournament will have played up to 23 games even before
they embark on the 38-match Brazilian championship campaign in May.
Leading clubs such as Sao Paulo also take part in the South American
Libertadores Cup - up to 14 matches with huge distances to be travelled -- or
the Copa Brasil knockout tournament.