SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Brazil coach Dunga says he is good friends with his Paraguay counterpart Ramon Diaz and has shared a bottle of wine or two with the Argentine, but only one of them will be in the mood to celebrate after their Copa America quarter-final this week.
“Ramon is an experienced coach, he’s enjoyed success at many different places such at River Plate and Monaco,” Dunga said on Sunday after his side’s 2-1 win over Venezuela in their final group game.
“He’s my friend, we’ve shared good dinners together and good wine. He’s special. As a player he had a special talent and now as a coach he’s doing a very good job.
“It’ll be a finely balanced match. It’ll be like a final.”
The two sides will meet in the southern Chilean city of Concepcion next Saturday in a repeat of the 2011 quarter-final, which Paraguay won on penalties after holding Brazil to a goalless draw.
Dunga shrugged off comparisons with that encounter and said he could not change the past.
“We can’t go back in time. What happened at the last Copa America happened. We weren’t there, we’re here now,” he said.
Brazil could not afford to take their opponents lightly, particularly since they had proved themselves by fighting back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Argentina in their group.
“Paraguay showed their strength against Argentina in their first match,” Dunga added.
The coach said he was pleased with the way his side had played against Venezuela despite the absence of striker Neymar, who has been suspended for the rest of the tournament for his role in a fracas at the end of Brazil’s second group game against Colombia.
Dunga fielded Robinho in Neymar’s place and, for much of the game, the Brazilians played with a fluidity they had lacked against Colombia.
“We always work on the basis that a team cannot be based around just one player,” Dunga said. “I think Brazil will play better as the tournament goes on – each time with more confidence.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford