Brazil can't afford setback in tough group: Dunga

Brazil coach Dunga will hope his players, seen here giving out chocolate Easter gifts after training, will be less charitable when they play in Paraguay. In their last qualifier, Brazil let slip a two-goal lead to allow Uruguay to come back and draw 2-2.
Brazil coach Dunga will hope his players, seen here giving out chocolate Easter gifts after training, will be less charitable when they play in Paraguay. In their last qualifier, Brazil let slip a two-goal lead to allow Uruguay to come back and draw 2-2. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PORTO ALEGRE • Brazil coach Dunga believes the South American countries' campaign for football's 2018 World Cup Finals will be decided in the last match of the regional qualifiers and, for that reason, it is important to always play to win.

"We have to aim for goals and wins. The table is very tight, therefore with one victory you could be at the top," said Dunga during a news conference on Monday in Porto Alegre, where the national team have been training in preparation for their match against Paraguay this morning (Singapore time).

After drawing 2-2 on Thursday with Uruguay, Brazil are third in the table, level with Paraguay and Argentina who also have eight points before their match against Bolivia this morning.

Therefore a victory for Paraguay could mean that Brazil, the five-time World Cup champions, could fall below the top four who will qualify for the World Cup without having to go through the play-offs.

In Asuncion, against Paraguay, Dunga said he would like his team "to play as they did for the majority of their first half against Uruguay".

He added that it "is difficult to make a significant change to a team who haven't played or trained together for 128 days", in reference to the time that has passed between the qualifiers last year and now.

Brazil's 1994 World Cup-winning captain said he expected Paraguay to "use their experience, high-quality players and their characteristic strong style to pressurise us".

He did not confirm if he will use the same starting line-up as he did in the match against Uruguay with Gil and Ricardo Oliveira replacing David Luiz and Neymar, who are suspended for the Paraguay game due to second bookable offences.

"We will choose (the starting 11) according to the players' training, how they have played in the recent matches, and the characteristics that we will need on the pitch," said Dunga.

Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz has warned Dunga that his side will make it "impossible" for Brazil.

"We will not underestimate Brazil," he said.

"We showed against Ecuador that we're a competitive team who can fight against anyone and I hope that we will continue to grow."

Paraguay have enjoyed success over Brazil in recent years, eliminating the five-time world champions from both the 2011 and 2015 Copa America.

REUTERS, XINHUA


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil can't afford setback in tough group: Dunga'. Print Edition | Subscribe