Mano Menezes has defended his Brazil team, insisting that his record was not "all negative" after they were eliminated in the quarter-final of the Copa America on Sunday night. Brazil lost 2-0 on penalties to Paraguay after drawing 0-0 in 120 minutes. Brazilian newspaper O Globo described it as an act of "historical incompetence".
The Copa America was Menezes' first test as Brazil coach since he replaced Dunga last year. There were high expectations, though, as he was tasked with bringing through the generation of Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso who, it is hoped, will win the World Cup on home soil in 2014. Yet Brazil lacked fluency in most of their games, and their struggle against Paraguay was no surprise.
Menezes, however, implored Brazilians not to rush to judgement. "It's important to keep our calm after a loss and avoid thinking that it was all negative," he said. "We improved after the start in the competition and we will continue working hard so we can reach the positive results in the future."
Despite Brazil's exit, Menezes insisted that progress had been made. "It's always disappointing when things don't go our way," he said. "We lost to a team which hasn't won a match yet and now has reached the semi-finals. But that's football and we have to learn how to live with that to avoid compromising the work that we've done so far. And at the same time we have to understand what we need to do to improve from now on."
Brazil's failure to score from 120 minutes of football and even four penalty kicks against Paraguay was not out of keeping with their form. They drew their first group game 0-0 against Venezuela, and then needed a last-minute equaliser to draw 2-2 against Paraguay. A better performance brought them a 4-2 victory over Ecuador in their third match.
The front four, with two from Santos, and two from Milan failed to produce the necessary. While Neymar scored twice against Ecuador, Ganso could not show the form which helped Santos to the Copa Libertadores and the Campeonato Paulista this year. Alexandre Pato and Robinho were similarly inconsistent, and Menezes' Brazil were left looking some way short of being serious contenders for 2014.