Brazil on right track despite Copa America exit – Menezes

BUENOS AIRES, (Reuters) – Brazil will be strong when  they stage the World Cup in 2014, coach Mano Menezes said today after his team’s shock Copa America quarter-final  elimination.

Mano Menezes

The holders were beaten on penalties by Paraguay, following  hosts and co-favourites Argentina out of a tournament that has  been turned on its head by traditional lesser lights of South  American soccer.

Brazil squandered a string of chances before missing four  penalties in the decisive shootout to lose it 2-0.

“I’m very firm in my self-criticism (but) Brazil won’t get  to 2014 tottering, they’ll get there strong,” Menezes told  reporters at his squad’s tournament base outside Buenos Aires.

Menezes, appointed last year after predecessor Dunga’s  failure to get past the World Cup quarter-finals, does not plan  to resign.

“I think that to change (coach) doesn’t resolve anything.  Argentina have been changing quite a lot in the last few years  and that didn’t resolve Argentina’s problem,” Menezes said.

His Argentine counterpart Sergio Batista has also pleaded a  lack of time to work on his team, although the debate in local  media runs much deeper including fears of worse to come after  ineffective changes dating back to the Marcelo Bielsa and Nestor  Pekerman era that ended at the 2006 World Cup quarter-finals.

Paraguay’s Argentine coach Gerardo Martino said Brazil  deserved to win.

“It had been a long time since I last saw a  Brazil team play as well as yesterday.”

He also pointed to the bizarre quarter-finals results,  saying: “Generally the best team wins but there can be a reverse  result (although) it doesn’t usually happen as continuously as  in this Copa.”

LOSING PATTERN

Menezes said that young forwards through whom he is planning  to revive Brazil’s traditional attacking virtues, like Neymar,  Paulo Henrique Ganso and Alexandre Pato, had been fast-tracked  into the side due to injuries to more experienced players like  Luis Fabiano and Adriano.

“We had to accelerate the process and that, without any  doubt, may explain the small hiccups, instabilities as opposed  to the consistency we want,” he said.

Brazil should have won in the 90 minutes. Paraguay did not  have a single shot on target to Brazil’s half-dozen and their  goalkeeper Justo Villar was the man of the match.

This was a pattern throughout the quarter-finals with Lionel  Messi’s Argentina creating more than Uruguay and going out on  penalties, Colombia coming closer than Peru before losing in  extra time to two shots from outside the box and Chile  succumbing to the vastly improved Venezuela.

Chile, regarded by many rival coaches as having played the  best football of the tournament, had the chance of a lifetime to  end their wait to lift the Copa America after finishing  runners-up four times. They were virtually a home side in  Mendoza and San Juan just across the Andean border.

They laid siege to Venezuela’s goal but could only find an  equaliser before a defensive mistake allowed their opponents to  snatch a second, late winner.

Their Argentina coach Claudio Borghi said he was unhappy to  have lost but said “I don’t feel let down, the team played well  and we progressed with numerous secondary objectives.”

All the coaches have talked of the tournament as being more  a testing ground in preparation for the gruelling two-year World  Cup qualifying campaign than a goal in itself.

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