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Kaka returns to Brazil national team for matches against Argentina and Japan

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SAO PAULO — Kaka is back with Brazil's national team after an absence of more than 18 months.

Coach Dunga on Friday called up the playmaker to replace injured Cruzeiro midfielder Ricardo Goulart for the match against Argentina on Oct. 11 in Beijing and against Japan on Oct. 14 in Singapore.

The 32-year-old Kaka, a member of Brazil's squad at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, hadn't been called up to the Selecao since a friendly against Russia in March last year, when Luiz Felipe Scolari was in charge.

"I'm incredibly happy to be back," Kaka said. "After a long time away from the national team, this comes as a reward for the work that I have been doing. It shows that I've been doing something good."

Kaka was Brazil's main star at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in Dunga's first stint as coach of the national team. He had been playing well with AC Milan before the 2014 tournament but was left out of the squad by Scolari.

"I hope I can add a lot to the national team with my experience," he said. "I think I can help."

Goulart was dropped because of a muscle injury. Dunga also had to replace Chelsea's Ramires with Sao Paulo midfielder Souza and Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos with Inter Milan's Juan. Both players also were injured. In another recent change, the coach added Gremio goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe to the squad.

Kaka, who is on loan at Sao Paulo from Major League Soccer club Orlando City, criticized the Brazilian confederation because he will miss three Sao Paulo games while with the national team. Sao Paulo president Carlos Miguel Aidar called it "lamentable" that the local calendar is not interrupted for the international break. Other teams will also be without players for domestic games because of Brazil's matches.

The game against Argentina is dubbed the Super Classic of the Americas, and is organized annually by CONMEBOL, the governing body of football in South America. Brazil won it in 2011 and 2012.

The matches in Asia will be Brazil's third and fourth games since Dunga's return as coach after a disappointing World Cup under Scolari on home soil. Brazil beat Colombia 1-0 and Ecuador by the same score this month in friendlies in the United States.


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