By Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Former Corinthians boss Tite was unveiled as the new Brazil coach on Monday and immediately said his priority was ensuring the five-time champions qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Brazil are currently outside the qualification spots for Russia and Tite was hired to ensure they do not lose their enviable record of having qualified for every World Cup since the tournament began in 1930. “The focus is classification,” Tite told reporters after his appointment was confirmed in Rio de Janeiro. “We are not in the classification zone. I think we are going to make it but we run an obvious risk. If we don’t face that possibility we are running away from reality. I am here because we didn’t get results.” With a third of the campaign over, Brazil currently sit sixth in the South American qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup. The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia and the fifth-placed side enter an inter-continental playoff. Tite, whose real name is Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, rejected a chance to coach the Olympic squad in order to focus on World Cup qualification. Rio de Janeiro will host the Olympic Games in August and the under-23 side, captained by Barcelona’s Neymar, will seek to win the Olympic gold for the first time. But the 55-year old from southern Brazil said he was sufficiently concerned about the senior team’s form to pass up that chance at glory. “The priority is the national side and working to qualify,” he told reporters. “I need to make adjustments, get on top of the situation as soon as possible. These next two games and qualification are the priority.” Brazil are away to second-placed Ecuador in September and then host Colombia. The popular coach led Corinthians to two Serie A titles, the Copa Libertadores and the World Club Cup and has a reputation as a man who knows how to organize even limited sides. But he will have his work cut out at the national team. Brazil have lost their way in recent years and have not won a major tournament since the 2007 Copa America 2007. They were humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals at home in 2014 and were knocked out the Copa America at the group stages last week for the first time since 1987.
(Writing by Andrew Downie, editing by Mitch Phillips)