LONDON: After eight successive victories since their humiliating World Cup exit, Brazil manager Dunga is proud of his side’s recovery but believes the upcoming Copa America will be the most difficult in years.
Hosts Brazil were humbled 7-1 in the World Cup semi-final by eventual winners Germany before falling to a 3-0 defeat against the Netherlands in the third-place playoff.
Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari resigned and was replaced by Dunga, who has since overseen an impressive pick-up in form encapsulated by Sunday’s 1-0 friendly win against Chile at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
After his first spell in charge of Brazil, Dunga was criticised for their uninspiring showing at the 2010 World Cup but has won plaudits during his second coming for overseeing an effective rebuilding after the traumatic Germany defeat.
“I am very happy with how the players have responded since then,” Dunga told reporters after Roberto Firmino’s goal lifted them to a feisty win over their South American rivals.
“I am very pleased with how they are dealing with everything since the World Cup and they are working very hard. They know the responsibility they have when they play for the Brazilian team and they are determined to change what has happened in the past so I am very happy.”
Eight-time winners Brazil begin their Copa America campaign in Chile against Peru on June 14 and Dunga believes the influx of South American players to Europe will add to the challenge.
“The Copa America will be one of the most difficult for a long time,” he added.
“The South American teams are a lot stronger because so many players are playing in Europe which make the competition a lot harder than ever before.”
Talisman Neymar was absent from their Germany humbling after he was injured in their quarter-final win over Colombia and Dunga said it was important they stopped relying solely on their instrumental forward.
“We must test every option. However, Neymar is very important to the team not only technically but because he’s very competitive and he helps the other players.
“This is the last game before the Copa America and many players come to the national team and we try to give them all the opportunity to play and today was the perfect opportunity to try them out.”
Counterpart Jorge Sampaoli of Chile was upbeat despite his team`s defeat.
“With three days since the last game (a 2-0 defeat by Iran) it was going to be difficult. The overall performance today was good aside from the result but I`m very happy with the players,” he said.