Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, has returned as coach of the national soccer team.
Scolari replaces Mano Menezes, who was fired Nov. 23. The 64-year-old will lead the team into the next World Cup in 2014, which Brazil will host.
“I couldn’t let the opportunity to be part of history and a sixth World Cup win playing in Brazil pass me by,” Scolari said on the Brazil Soccer Federation’s website, adding he thanked the governing body’s president Jose Maria Marin “a thousand times” when offered the job.
Former national team coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was also named as an assistant. Parreira led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title in the U.S. and also at the 2006 championship in Germany.
Scolari was in charge as Brazil won its record fifth world title in Japan ten years ago. The change in management comes as Brazil, usually among the world’s top teams, has fallen behind regional rivals Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia to stand 13th in world soccer ruling body FIFA’s rankings.
Speculation about Menezes’s future grew after Brazil failed to win a gold medal at the London Summer Olympics and was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Copa America a year earlier.
Scolari coached the Portuguese national team before taking lucrative assignments with Chelsea of England’s Premier League and Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor. The man popularly known as “Big Phil” was fired Sept. 13 by Palmeiras following poor results.
Scolari won 18 out of 24 games he oversaw during his one-year spell in charge of the national team between 2001 and 2002. Menezes, in his almost 2 1/2 years, recorded 21 wins in 33 games. His last game was a 2-1 loss to Argentina Nov. 21.