Dunga blames Copa America exit on virus sweeping through his squad
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.”
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