EXCLUSIVE By Tauan Ambrosio
Former Brazil striker Luis Fabiano insists current coach Dunga remains on course to deliver more success in his second spell in charge of the Selecao but warned his former boss that he faces a ‘war’ when his side meet Argentina World Cup qualifying on Thursday.
Sao Paulo striker Luis Fabiano was the most prolific striker during Dunga’s first spell in charge between 2006 and 2010, netting 22 goals that helped claim Copa America and Confederations Cup titles.
And despite no longer being part of the international setup, the 35-year-old has backed Dunga to deliver once again.
"It's hard to analyse Dunga’s current work, as I'm not living day-to-day with the team,” Fabiano told Goal.
“But looking in from the outside, it seems that he will do just as well as he did during his first spell.”
The veteran former Sevilla hitman has struggled to reproduce his ‘fabulous’ form – which earned him his nickname, a riff on Fabiano – as his career draws to an end back in Brazil but has enjoyed a glittering career at both club and international level.
And ahead of a trip to Buenos Aires, Fabiano recalled playing a major role in a couple of key victories over the Selecao’s historic rivals – most notably his involvement in the penalty shootout victory in the final of the 2004 Copa America.
“That title was very special,” he said of the day Adriano rescued the Selecao with a last-minute equaliser to make it 2-2 in Peru.
“I remember the Argentinian supporters chanting that they had won before the match had finished.
“Their players just wanted to retain possession of the ball. But we believed until the last second, and after an aerial duel between a defender and me, Adriano had the ball and scored the goal that took us to the penalty shootout and, ultimately, to the tittle.”
While Argentina and Brazil are locked on 36 victories a piece in the historical head-to-head, the Albiceleste provide plenty of happy memories for Fabiano.
He is unbeaten against them in five meetings for his country and scored twice last time the two met in World Cup qualification as Dunga’s Brazil secured a historic 3-1 win in Rosario – a match Fabiano remembers as a ‘war’ after then Argentina coach Diego Maradona insisted the game be taken away from Buenos Aires in order to cultivate a more intimidating atmosphere further north.
“That win was very special because it was a decisive game that could guarantee our spot in the World Cup, as it eventually did,” he recalled.
“There was a lot of pressure from the stands. I remember Argentina moving the game to Rosario, creating a feeling of ‘war’ to put pressure on us.
“But despite this we played an almost perfect game and was a great victory.”