Virus affected 15 Brazil players before quarter-final: Coach

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Concepcion (Chile), June 28 (IANS) Brazil coach Dunga has revealed a virus was taking its toll on the Brazil squad ahead of their Copa America quarter-final with Paraguay.

Brazil took the lead in the final-four clash at the Estadio Ester Roa on Saturday but were pegged back by a Derlis Gonzalez penalty before falling to defeat in a penalty shoot-out.

Following their exit, the coach revealed that a sickness had been affecting the Brazil camp.

He admitted that it forced them to scale back the workload in their practice sessions, while insisting it was not the reason for their elimination.

“It’s not an excuse, but 15 of our players suffered from a virus this week. We had to limit some training sessions,” Dunga said in his post-match press conference.

“Players suffered from a lot of headaches, back pain and illness – some felt it more than others. We had to reduce the intensity of training to try and help them recover. Some of them were vomiting. “Willian wasn’t feeling well at half-time, and Robinho was suffering in the end.”

Still, the 51-year-old thought Brazil did a good job of thwarting Paraguay’s aerial play but suggested they lacked the attacking speed to make a decisive impact.

“We had to balance the match on the physical aspect, and tried to win until the very end,” Dunga added.

“We tried to neutralise their main game-plan – the aerial ball. We had good moments through the match, with speed and switching between the sides.

Today we had an important match that needed speed and we lacked that in the end.”

Dunga lost a number of players to injury before the start of the tournament in Chile and then had captain and talisman Neymar ruled out through suspension after he was shown a red card in their second group-stage meeting against Colombia.

But he did not believe the loss of Neymar was the reason for their exit and instead looked forward to their next task of qualifying for World Cup 2018.

“Historically the Copa America is very complicated. Brazil won a few times, but when you win nothing is said. And when you lose we always say that something is missing,” Dunga said.

“We lost five players for this year’s tournament, and that makes it harder. There is a renovation for us to do, but we can’t put aside the experience gathered on a tournament like this.

Neymar is important, like he is important for Barcelona, but we have quality players. We wished we could win, it was a great lesson but the World Cup qualifiers are still our greatest goal,” he concluded.

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