Mixed emotions for Dunga on Rose Bowl return

Sun Jun 5, 2016 2:39pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PASADENA, California (Reuters) - For Brazil coach Dunga, it was a case of sharply contrasting emotions on his return to the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium for his country's opening match in the centenary Copa America tournament.

Twenty-two years ago at the same venue, Dunga captained his country to their fourth World Cup title as they beat Italy in a final decided by penalty kicks.

"The happiest day of my life as a soccer player", he says with a beaming smile.

In Brazil's Copa America opener on Saturday against Ecuador, however, the South American giants failed to find a winning edge in an often lackluster encounter that ended as a 0-0 draw.

"We have to improve everything," Dunga told reporters, speaking through an interpreter, after neither Brazil nor Ecuador were able to dominate the match. "This is not only about the defense or attack, we have to improve as a group.

"We knew how Ecuador was going to play, the way their players play tactically. They were very focused throughout the match. We created chances but the goal didn't come."

Eight times Copa America champions Brazil came close to scoring in the third minute when Ecuador goalkeeper Esteban Dreer saved well from Philippe Coutinho, and substitute Lucas Moura headed agonizingly wide with just seven minutes left.

It was clear that Brazil missed the influence of their talismanic striker Neymar, who is skipping the Copa America in lieu of the Olympic Games and watched Saturday's match from the comfort of one of the hospitality boxes.   Continued...

Jun 4, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; Brazil manager Dunga looks on before a game against Ecuador during the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports