CARACAS (AFP) - South American heavyweights Brazil and Argentina are set to enter battle with ten other nations as the world's oldest international football tournament, the Copa America, gets underway in Venezuela on Tuesday.
Argentina will be bidding to end their 14-year Copa America drought at the expense of defending champions Brazil, who beat them on penalties in Peru three years ago.
The 42nd edition of the 12-team tournament, which showcases South American football and was first played in 1916, is taking place in baseball-mad Venezuela for the first time from June 26 to July 15.
The competition, which is held every two years apart from when it clashes with a World Cup year, will also allow players to show what they have and secure potentially lucrative transfers to European leagues this summer.
After the disappointment of last year's World Cup, favourites Argentina and Brazil will be looking to lay the groundwork for their 2010 world qualifying campaigns.
But Uruguay, Colombia and Chile have been rebuilding and are hoping to cause some upsets, with Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador and Bolivia also looking to make their mark.
Venezuela will be counting on their home advantage to lift them with the two invitation teams, the United States and Mexico, both bighitters from the Concacaf region (Central American and Caribbean).
Brazil, in Group B with Mexico, Chile and Ecuador, have a new look side from the team which were shocked in the World Cup quarter-finals by France.
Dunga took over as coach from Carlos Alberto Parreira last July and has ruthlessly swung the axe with stalwarts Ronaldo, Robert Carlos, Cafu and Adriano not featuring.
Ronaldinho and Kaka have both requested to be overlooked as they recover from their seasons in Europe.
Dunga is looking to blood new talent with midfielder Elano (Shakhtar Donetsk) and striker Vagner Love (CSKA Moscow) both getting the nod, along with midfielders Anderson and Joshua, full-back Kleber and defender Alex Silva.
Defender Juan, who has agreed a moved from Bayer Leverkusen to AS Roma, Werder Bremen midfielder Diego and Arsenal's Gilberto Silva as well as strikers Robinho (Real Madrid) and Fred (Lyon) have also been included.
Dunga's confidence has been boosted by recent positive results in friendlies including a 3-0 win over Argentina and a 4-0 rout of Chile.
"The art of soccer does not exist, soccer is a competition, it is like life. In life only results count," said Dunga enigmatically.
Brazil open against Mexico on June 27 in Puerto Ordaz.
Argentina coach Alfio Basile is counting on a mixture of youth and experience as he looks for a record 15th Copa title and their first since 1993.
Basile has called up a strike force including Barcelona's teenage star Lionel Messi, West Ham's Carlos Tevez and Hernan Crespo with midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme returning after quitting last year.
Riquelme, 28, on loan from Villarreal in Spain, scored both second leg goals to help Boca Juniors win their sixth Copa Libertadores title this week, while Crespo won the Serie A title with Inter Milan.
"I have a team who have won titles, who have been victorious," warned Basile.
Argentina open on June 28 against the United States, in Maracaibo. Their Group C also includes Paraguay and Colombia.
For hosts Venezuela, drawn in Group A with Uruguay, Peru and Bolivia, the tournament is being seen as a way of improving their country's image.
President Hugo Chavez, whose government is flush with cash from booming oil prices, has ploughed a record 1,000 million dollars into ensuring their biggest sporting event since the 1983 PanAmerican Games goes off without a hitch.
That figure dwarfs the 24 million dollars spent by Uruguay in 1995, the 10 million dollars by Bolivia in 1997, 20 million by Colombia in 2001 and 13.2 million by Peru in 2004.
Three new stadia have been constructed and another six overhauled for the event which will take place in nine cities.
New roads have been built and systems of transport improved.
|Stoke agree Berahino deal with West Brom|
|AC Milan complete Deulofeu loan signing|
|Gerrard returns to Liverpool as academy coach|
|Ivory Coast 2 DR Congo 2: Serey Die rescues point but holders still in trouble|
|Di Maria committed to PSG amid reported CSL interest|
|Sanchez a role model - Xhaka|
|Tuchel trusts Schurrle to fill Aubameyang void|
|Ghana v Mali: Rahman injury poses a problem for Grant|
|Depay not holding Manchester United grudge|
|I love watching them - Guardiola a huge fan of Pochettino and Tottenham|
|Klopp: I could kick Mane in the... lower back|
|Conte: Ake is ready to help Chelsea´s title bid|
|Allardyce provides Evra, Van Aanholt and Jenknson updates|
|Guardiola looks beyond beleaguered Bravo for City woes|
|Begovic could leave Chelsea - Conte|
|PSG still on the hunt for striker, says Emery|
|Mourinho: Valencia the best right-back in football|
|Mourinho on Young to China talk: He hasn´t told me anything!|
|Costa wants to stay at Chelsea, reveals Conte|
|´I played worse sometimes´ - Zidane defends Ronaldo from critics|
|Injured Iniesta to miss Eibar clash|
|Mourinho open to Depay return|
|Lyon confirm Depay arrival|
|Germany to bid for Euro 2024|
|Sydney FC 2 Adelaide United 0: Two goals in three minutes extend lead|
|Depay could face Marseille as Lyon boss Genesio hails winger´s ´big motivation´|
|Hull loan Elabdellaoui from Olympiacos|
|AC Milan make final offer for Deulofeu|
|Hughes ´wouldn´t encourage´ Bojan bids|
|Worker dies at World Cup stadium in Qatar|
|West Brom sign Livermore|
|Lyon president Aulas: Depay deal imminent|
|Aubameyang: I could leave Dortmund, but I´d never join Bayern|
|´Equating Messi with anyone else is like comparing a policeman with Batman´ - Sampaoli|
|It will take years to build football culture, Wenger warns CSL|
|´Worried´ Rakitic wants Barca renewal|
|Inter not signing Messi - Moratti|
|Luis Enrique hails Barca defence after ending Anoeta curse|
|´He is made of different stuff´ - Spalletti hails Nainggolan after wondergoal|
|Tottenham´s Janssen turned down Galatasaray move, agent claims|
|Did Carroll´s wondergoal give the West Ham striker whiplash?|
|Iniesta suffers calf injury|
|Swansea situation not ´hopeless´, says Clement|
|Real Sociedad 0 Barcelona 1: Neymar ends Anoeta curse|
|´Immeasurable bulls**t´ - Ligue 1 coach destroys Van Basten´s offside plan|
|Simeone praises Atletico´s precision in Copa Del Rey win|
|Fonte situation difficult for Southampton - Puel|
|´Some of the best football in the UK´ - Watford´s Mazzarri hails Bournemouth|
|Senegal 2 Zimbabwe 0: Cisse´s men charge into quarter-finals|
|Rivaldo backs Luis Enrique to deliver more Barca success|
|Atletico Madrid 3 Eibar 0: Routine win earns quarter-final lead|
|Jesus will make Premier League history - Rivaldo|
|Adebayor: Arsenal are just Ozil and Sanchez|
|Algeria 1 Tunisia 2: Favourites on brink of elimination|
|Bayern keen to seal Coman deal as Rummenigge cools Gnabry interest|
|Pochettino has done his homework on Jesus as Spurs look to march on|
|Scrap offside? Premier League managers give Van Basten´s plans a cool reception|
|Coman ready for Bayern comeback, confirms Ancelotti|
|Pochettino upbeat despite six weeks out for Vertonghen, Lamela still a mystery|
|Cerezo defiant over Griezmann amid talk of Manchester United agreement|
|Robinho named in Brazil squad for Chapecoense fundraiser|
|Davies and Lookman aren´t the big men of Everton, warns Koeman|
|Ivory Coast v DR Congo: Dussyer demands champions show true strength|
|Replacing Robben and Ribery not easy - Hitzfeld|
|Yeray back in Athletic training after successful cancer surgery|
|Karanka targeting more Boro deals after Bamford swoop|
|Cavani: I am the ultimate finisher|
|Morocco v Togo: El Ahmadi hungry for success|
|Ancelotti denies Verratti approach|
|A-League Review: Cahill double sees Melbourne City sink Mariners|
|Manchester United very happy with Shaw, insists agent|
|Mertesacker extends Arsenal deal|
|Boost for Arsenal as key quartet returns to training|
|Will Jesus save Manchester City´s title bid? Guardiola´s new striker in Opta numbers|
|Tevez mobbed after touching down in Shanghai|
|Payet exit not inevitable - Bilic|
|Wenger: Arsenal don´t need Payet|
|Jesus wants Manchester City titles|
|Orsolini arrives for Juventus medical|
|Rivaldo backs Coutinho to join Neymar at Barcelona|
|No danger of Messi leaving Barcelona, says father|
|Augusto: I convinced Oscar to come to China|
|Madrid-bound Maradona visits Napoli training|
|Sevilla in no rush over Sampaoli talks despite Barcelona links|
|Cafu: Resurgent Brazil can challenge world´s best|
|Klopp thrilled with Coutinho|
|Manchester United replace Real Madrid as world´s richest club|
|Madrid squad annoyed by defeats - Zidane wants more energy after latest loss|
|Casemiro rues more misery for Madrid against Celta|
|´Job done, let´s go home´ - Klopp happy to avoid extra time with narrow Plymouth win|
|FA Cup Review: Southampton leave it late to beat Norwich|
|Real Madrid 1 Celta Vigo 2: Aspas and Jonny extend Madrid winless run|
|Plymouth Argyle 0 Liverpool 1: Rare Lucas goal sees Klopp´s men through|
|Manchester City in La La Land as Schalke toil underground|
|Cameroon 2 Guinea-Bissau 1: Ngadeu-Ngadjui completes comeback to send Broos´ men top|
|Monaco confirm signing of Ajax teenager Antonucci|
|Manchester United´s interest in Griezmann is unsurprising - Simeone|
|Bamford ends spell in Chelsea wilderness with Boro return|
|Louis the great - Luis Enrique explains his and Barca´s debt to Van Gaal|
|Gabon 1 Burkina Faso 1: Spot-on Aubameyang makes his point|
|PSG send Ikone on loan to Montpellier|
|Senegal v Zimbabwe: Cisse wants to live up to favourites tag|
|Ghana´s Rahman leaves AFCON with knee injury|
|Algeria v Tunisia: Mahrez demands improvement in crucial Group B clash|
|Dortmund forward Dembele hits out at Bundesliga refereeing|
|Robben hopes Alonso stays at Bayern amid retirement rumours|
|Asian champions Jeonbuk banned from 2017 Champions League|
|Rakitic still an important player for Barcelona - Luis Enrique|
|Jesus will develop quicker at City - Emerson|
|Always take the weather with you - Spanish snow blights CSKA´s training camp|
|Messi never gave Coach interview, claims father|
|Gotze questions critics but admits to falling short of expecations|
|´Conte can have our title´ - Ranieri wants Chelsea to win the Premier League|
|Tottenham reject Premier League, Bundesliga offers for Wimmer|
|Liverpool sell Ilori to Reading|
|Potential victims in football abuse probe surpasses 500|
|Bonaventura signs new AC Milan contract|
|Messi: Ronaldo has achieved great things|
|Koscielny: Wenger has built men at Arsenal|
|Messi vows to stay at Barcelona ´for as long as they want me´|
|Cafu adamant Neymar will become world´s best|
|I´m just taking a sabbatical - Van Gaal denies he´s retired|
|Not even Gerrard won Premier League - Buttner says he´s not a United flop|
|Samper ignored Wenger as Barca midfielder rejected Arsenal|
|Pleased Pioli wants more from Inter|
|Evergrande boss Scolari dismisses Turan links|
|Klopp seeks legal advice over Matip|
|Marseille complete Sanson move|