Brazilian soccer looked to be in need of a shake-up after a disastrous end to the 2014 World Cup. It may not have gotten that when Dunga was hired (again) to take over as coach of the national team, but instead it's Dunga himself that enacted a big change. For the team's upcoming friendlies and beyond, the captaincy for the team will go to star forward Neymar, and away from defender Thiago Silva.
Dunga had initially announced that Neymar would lead the Seleçao in a friendly against Colombia in Miami on Friday, which makes sense as Silva is currently injured and did not make the trip. But an announcement posted on the official website of the Brazilian federation indicates that the move is permanent, saying that Neymar is the new captain of the team and not mentioning that it would be specifically for the game in Miami.
Neymar's captaincy can be seen as a shock, given Silva's age and experience (he's 29 and in his prime, while Neymar is still only 22). In addition, Silva has a reputation as one of the best, most vocal leaders in world soccer. Along with Neymar, Silva was seen as one of Brazil's standout performers in the 2014 World Cup, and his absence in the team's 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany was seen as a major contributing factor to the embarrassing loss -- perhaps more so than the absence of Neymar.
"Neymar has responded very well to it. He is a player who likes challenges and like to win," Brazilian national team coach Dunga told reporters in Miami. "We talked to him when we first broached the subject and we told him what we wanted."
"He's a player with a lot of quality, despite his age is experienced. The captain has to set the standard for the others."
Regarding Silva, Dunga told reporters "Just because a player doesn't have the captain's armband, doesn't make him any less of a leader."