Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dunga's way, more sombre than Samba

Brian Homewood


Dunga is the Portuguese name for Dopey, the smallest of Snow White's seven dwarfs, but for many people it would have been more appropriate if Brazil's coach had been named after Grumpy.
Real name Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, Dunga often seems as if he would be more at home with a dour European team rather than the flamboyant five-times champions, who many neutrals look to for World Cup inspiration.
Dunga, who snarled his way through three World Cups as a hard-tackling midfielder, has won the Copa America and Confederations Cup in his three-and-a-half years as coach but many feel he has taken the fun out of Brazil.
He has famously labelled Brazil's 1982 team, who played some of the best attacking football ever seen at a World Cup but failed to win the trophy, as "specialists in losing".
After seeing his team splutter to a 2-1 win over rank outsiders North Korea, Dunga praised his team for their efficiency -- a word which, in the context of Brazilian football, sounds almost blasphemous.
"It's all about efficiency," he said. "Everyone has to be efficient, in attack and defence. Without that you don't get anywhere."
Dunga has never had much time for the concept of the "Jogo Bonito" (Beautiful Game), as Brazilian football is often called, and has turned them into a team who play on the counter-attack and score a large percentage of goals from set pieces.
His 23-man squad includes only four strikers and he regularly packs his midfield with spoilers.


It works very well against teams who attack Brazil, but his side often look at a loss when faced with a packed defence.
Before the North Korea match, Dunga pointed out that Brazil had won the World Cup twice and the Copa America five times since adopting a more physical, less attractive game in the late 1980s.
"Everyone has his taste and is entitled to express how he wants the team to play. I like to win," he said.
Dunga has been a prominent figure in the change to a more pragmatic style.
As a player, his approach, based on tough tackling, work rate and functional passing, was seen as symbolic of the metamorphosis.
When Brazil went down to a second-round defeat at the 1990 World Cup, he was made the scapegoat and the failure was baptised "The Dunga Era."
But he was not to be beaten, fought his way back into the side and captained the team which won Brazil's fourth World Cup title four years later -- ending a 24-year wait.
Four years later, he captained them to the runners-up spot in France.
The 46-year-old is known to have a soft centre and says that, in private, he is a jovial person. But the public rarely see that side of him,
Dunga spent the Beijing Olympics complaining about the food, the pitch and even around the number of volunteers.
He blamed delays in the customs at Bogota airport for a goalless World Cup qualifying draw in Colombia and, after seeing his team win 4-0 in Venezuela, complained that "nothing works in this country".
When Portugal were drawn in the same World Cup group, he could not resist a truculent aside about the number of Brazilian-born players in their team.
"We're playing Brazil's B," he sneered.

Caption: Brazil's soccer coach Dunga gestures during a training session, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Brazil will face Ivory Coast on June 20 in the group G for the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

JUN 17, 2010 21:04:0

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