Dunga blames Copa Amer­ica exit on virus sweep­ing through his squad

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL -

DUNGA, the Brazil head coach, blamed a virus that hit sev­eral play­ers for his team’s early elim­i­na­tion from the Copa Amer­ica at the hands of Paraguay.

Derlis Gon­za­lez slot­ted two penal­ties, one in reg­u­lar time and again in the shootout, to help Paraguay beat Brazil 4-3 af­ter a 1-1 draw that ad­vanced them to a semi-fi­nal meet­ing with Ar­gentina.

“It’s not an ex­cuse, but 15 play­ers had a virus this week and we had to limit much of our train­ing,” Dunga said. “To­day was a game in which it was cru­cial to use speed and that was what we lacked at the end.

“They had a virus, they had headaches, sore backs, aches and pains all over,” he added. “Some vom­ited and we had to slow down our train­ing ses­sions be­cause of that.”

Brazil, who had won 12 of their pre­vi­ous 13 matches since Dunga took charge af­ter last year’s World Cup, had more pos­ses­sion in the first half and weaved some good at­tacks but Paraguay were quick and dan­ger­ous on the break.

Paraguay be­came more ad­ven­tur­ous in the sec­ond half and winger Edgar Ben­itez soon won a free-kick when he was brought down by Dani Alves, though goal­keeper Jef­fer­son par­ried the ball away from Roque Santa Cruz’s at­tempt.

With an hour gone, Jef­fer­son made a div­ing re­flex save from cen­tre back Paulo Da Silva’s header and later made a sim­i­lar save from Gon­za­lez.

Paraguay cap­tain Justo Vil­lar then had to make a scram­bling save from a Philippe Coutinho shot.

In the shootout, the writ­ing was on the wall for Brazil from their sec­ond penalty which was put wide by Ever­ton Ribeiro and Dou­glas, missed their fourth to give Paraguay two penal­ties to set­tle the out­come.

Santa Cruz then skied his, while Coutinho gave Brazil hope by net­ting his but Gon­za­lez made no mis­take.

Hosts Chile meet Peru in Mon­day’s other semi-fi­nal.

And while Dunga felt the virus had af­fected their prepa­ra­tion, goalscorer Robinho said it had lit­tle bear­ing on the out­come of the game.

“I am not us­ing that as an ex­cuse,” said Robinho. “We could have won the game with a virus or not.”

HOUGHTON: Eng­land cap­tain cel­e­brates reach­ing the semi-fi­nal af­ter beat­ing Canada in Van­cou­ver

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