Football: 'Lovestruck' Jefferson has eyes on Brazil prize

Jefferson de Oliveira Galvao is not a household name in world football.

In Brazil, certainly, the 31-year-old does not go unrecognised, but in the wider world, a place on Brazil's bench does not bring much global esteem.

Yet the Botafogo shot-stopper is eyeing a slice of the limelight at a home World Cup in June as he bids to persuade Luiz Felipe Scolari to make him his number one.

The man in possession of the shirt, Julio Cesar, has been Scolari's undisputed first standout choice on the basis of 77 Selecao caps won over a decade.

However, the 34-year-old, who established himself by supplanting 2002 world champion Marcos and former AC Milan star Dida, is short of match fitness after eight months in the wilderness at Queens Park Rangers.

Earlier this month, Julio Cesar finalised a loan move to Major League Soccer side Toronto to gain match fitness.

But Jefferson hopes landing the Rio state league title last year and helping Botafogo back into the Copa Libertadores for the first time in 17 years will aid his cause.

Likening joining up with the squad to the early stages of a relationship, he insists he will not be found wanting if given the chance to add to his nine caps.

"The first step is to be in the Selecao squad, the second is to be champion. The third is to play," says Jefferson.

"You have to be in the group and work -- Felipao will decide" who gets the nod to start, Globo daily quoted Jefferson as saying while accepting Cesar retains Scolari's confidence despite his QPR misadventure.

Jefferson, who made his debut in 2011 "Superclasicos" back-to-back friendlies against Argentina -- he kept two clean sheets -- is in the squad which will next week face South Africa in a Johannesburg friendly.

Thereafter, the five-time world champions will meet Panama and Serbia on home soil in early June before opening their World Cup campaign against Croatia in Sao Paulo.

Scolari's predecessor Mano Menezes had originally called him up Jefferson as cover for a 2010 friendly win over the United States.

He sat on the bench throughout last year's successful Confederations Cup campaign and has yet to experience international tournament play.

Jefferson started out with Cruzeiro and was loaned to Botafogo prior to four seasons in Turkey with Trabzonspor, then Konyaspor.

He returned to Botafogo and helped the club to the 2010 Rio championship after saving a decisive penalty from former Brazil striker Adriano.

Earlier this week, Jefferson said every call up to the squad gives him butterflies in his stomach, as if he were embarking on a romantic relationship.

"It's like we are falling in love -- but still only dating. I just hope I'll be there for the marriage."

For that to happen, he has to beat Julio Cesar to the 'altar'.

Other home-based keepers hoping to stake a claim for a final squad berth are Victor of Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense's former Liverpool misfit Diego Cavalieri.

cw/ak