England confirm Brazil test
England will play five-time world champions Brazil in a friendly in Qatar on 14 November. The meeting, which will be the 23rd between the two countries, has been mooted for a while now but The Football Association has finally confirmed it after all the contractual details were sorted out.
The match at the 50,000-capacity Khalifa International Stadium will be a first visit to the Middle Eastern state for England, and is payback for Brazil agreeing to be the first visitors to the new Wembley in 2007.
More importantly for coach Fabio Capello, it is an opportunity to assess his team against the side currently top of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. The Italian will no doubt be hoping the likes of Kaka, Robinho and Daniel Alves will all be available to provide the stiffest test possible as the build-up to next summer's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ continues.
Having faced the Netherlands in August, and both Spain and Germany away from home last season, a meeting with the FIFA Confederations Cup holders will be another tough challenge given England have only beaten Brazil three times in their history, the last occasion in March 1990 when Gary Lineker scored the only goal for Sir Bobby Robson's side.
It will represent the last chance Capello, who is due to name his squad for England's final two South Africa 2010 preliminaries against Ukraine and Belarus - matches now academic following the Three Lions' qualification - next Sunday, will have to assess his side at any length before next summer, given their only other friendly is a midweek game in March.
England will play two additional matches before the FIFA World Cup begins, both of which will take place after the current campaign is over.
"To play a team like Brazil will be important for us," said Capello. "We can understand more about ourselves and the level we must reach by playing the best teams.
"We have played Spain, Holland, Germany and France, some of the best teams in the world. In each of these games we have also played away from home, which is important before South Africa. One of the benefits of securing qualification against Croatia is that we can start to plan for the World Cup, and this match is one part of our plans."