Paraguay's Diaz aims to emulate Dunga's Brazil
24 April 2015, 10:32
Asuncion - Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz has told Reuters he will take a leaf out of Dunga's book by concentrating on defence to put his team back among South America's best.
Dunga has impressively shored up the Brazil defence since their dismal World Cup last year and taken them on a run of eight victories.
"Brazil defend very well under Dunga ... they came from playing a lyrical game and were a disaster at the World Cup and today they have recovered that defensive solidity you need to build a team," Diaz said in an interview on Thursday.
"First (you need) defensive solidity, the whole team defending, knowing how to defend and manage the ball," added Diaz, who steered River Plate to the Argentine league title in his home country last year before taking charge of Paraguay in December.
"For that you need time. You can't pretend in such a short time to see a team like Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay who already have a World Cup core.
"We want it to be tough to face Paraguay," said Diaz, a former Argentina striker who has coached club sides with strong attacking instincts such as River and San Lorenzo.
Diaz has so far presided over two friendlies, a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica and a 1-0 loss to Mexico in Copa America warm-up friendlies on tour last month.
The 55-year-old will make his competitive debut as Paraguay coach in the Copa America in Chile which kicks off on June 11 in a group that includes World Cup runners-up Argentina, title holders Uruguay and Jamaica.
World cup failure
"We all want and have expectations of winning the Copa America, scoring five goals against Argentina, five against Uruguay, all of them, but for that you need a process and a structure," Diaz said at the Paraguayan FA's (APF) headquarters on the outskirts of Asuncion.
"But we mustn't create false expectations because then there will be big frustrations. We can't do in six months what wasn't built over the previous six or seven years."
Paraguay, traditionally noted for strong defence and aerial strength in attack, reached four successive World Cup tournaments from 1998 in France to 2010 in South Africa where they reached the quarter-finals for the first time.
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They also reached the Copa America final in 2011 under Gerardo Martino, who is now Argentina coach, but they had a poor qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, finishing bottom of the South American group.
Their FIFA ranking has tumbled to 81st, better only than Bolivia (92) in South America. Their highest was eighth in March 2001.
Diaz, who signed with the APF until the 2018 World Cup in Russia, is working closely with the under-17 and under-20 teams to bring about the generational change that Paraguay failed to see through after Martino left in 2011.
"(Player) turnover does not come on its own, it doesn't just happen. The great players we have help the younger ones to come through as in any process. That requires work that wasn't done here," Diaz said.
He cited big names like Paraguay's captain Roque Santa Cruz, who has shone in Europe for Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Malaga before joining Cruz Azul in Mexico this year, and former Benfica striker Oscar Cardozo, now with Trabzonspor in Turkey.
"Santa Cruz is a top player, an incredible goalscorer, (Augburg's Raul) Bobadilla too, Cardozo," he said.
"We need to build something so that when they have to finish (a move) they can get a result."