'Sick' Brazil slump out of Copa America
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The phrase 'sick as a parrot' features prominently in the lexicon of English footballers. The simile is assiduously wheeled out after setbacks. England internationals have used it far too often for their supporters' liking over the years. The Brazil coach Dunga was using words to that effect on Saturday night in Chile following his side's quarter-final defeat to Paraguay at the Copa America. Illnes, he said, was at the heart of his side's demise.
A mystery virus was blamed for his team's defeat in a penalty shoot-out after the match ended 1-1 in Concepcion.
Dunga said as many as 15 members of his squad had been affected by the virus, which he said had disrupted preparations for the last eight showdown.
"Some had headaches, back pain, body aches. Some players felt it more than others and had to reduce training, some players vomited," said the 51-year-old coach. "The game was one where we needed speed and we didn't have it," he added.
Goalkeeper Jefferson said: "Everyone woke up with a fever, headache and body aches."
There will be more pain for the players to face from a demanding public and media. The Copa America was supposed to be the tournament where Brazil exorcised the horror of their World Cup semi-final annihilation against Germany.
But for the second successive Copa America, the Brazilians exited at the quarter-final stage. The departure is all the more galling as the side had appeared to be in control. Robinho, playing in place of suspended skipper Neymar, opened the scoring after 15 minutes. But midway through the second half Derlis Gonzalez levelled from the penalty spot.
Paraguay won the penalty shoot-out 4-3 to set up a semi-final against Argentina on 1 July.
The other semi-final pits hosts Chile against Peru. Matches between the two neighbours are known as the "Clasico del Pacifico" and are played against a backdrop of enmity that dates back to the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific. Chile and Peru also fought a long-running legal battle over the two nations' disputed maritime border.
Of more concern to the players though is recent footballing exploits. Chile will have the slight edge. They have qualified for the last two World Cups and reached the last 16 in 2014. Peru haven't been to the World Cup since 1982.