RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Former Spurs midfielder Paulinho was the surprise inclusion in a revamped Brazil squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia next month, new coach Tite said on Monday.
Paulinho, who left Spurs for Guangzhou Evergrande last year, won the Copa Libertadores with Corinthians when Tite was in charge but has not played for Brazil since the 2014 World Cup.
Weverton, the uncapped keeper whose penalty save helped the Olympic side to their first gold medal against Germany on Saturday, was also included, along with six other Olympic medallists.
Shakhtar Donetsk striker Taison, Corinthians full back Fagner, and Rafael Carioca, defensive midfielder with Atletico Mineiro, were the other three uncapped players called up by the coach who will lead the team for the first time after replacing Dunga last month.
“It isn’t about renewal,” said Tite when asked about the widespread changes from the squad that went to the Centenary Copa America in June. “It’s about form.”
Brazil will face Ecuador in Quito on Sept. 1 and then Colombia in Manaus five days later.
The five-time champions currently sit sixth in the South American group for the 2018 World Cup, outside the qualifying places for Russia.
“There are two teams above us and they are two teams that are ready,” Tite said. “They have confidence and move the ball forward quickly. They will be very difficult matches.”
Brazil is the only country to have qualified for every World Cup but they are going through a poor phase, having failed to win a major tournament since the 2007 Copa America.
The top four teams in the South American group qualify automatically for Russia and the fifth-placed team go into an intercontinental play off.
Marcelo Grohe (Gremio)
Weverton (Atletico Paranaense)
Daniel Alves (Juventus)
Filipe Luis (Athletico Madrid)
Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Gil (Shandong Luneng)
Miranda (Inter Milan)
Rodrigo Caio (São Paulo)
Casemiro (Real Madrid)
Rafael Carioca (Atletico Mineiro)
Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande)
Lucas Lima (Santos)
Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan)
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras)
Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Editing by Alison Williams