First impressions are critical. This was apparent to Dunga in August 2006. He had, with no previous coaching experience, been installed into the hottest of hot-seats and as he prepared to kick off his Brazil reign against Norway in Oslo, the critics prepared to lambaste what they perceived a hasty appointment in a bolder font.
Defeat would have injected poison into their pens, yet Dunga alarmingly - inexplicably to those skeptics - left Ronaldinho and Kaka out of his squad. The Gaúcho was nevertheless confident; confident in a player whose unfathomable dribbles, cunning final balls and free-kick expertise had inspired CSKA Moscow to an historic treble the previous year.
Daniel Carvalho vindicated Dunga's trust with a lively display and the goal that earned Brazil a 1-1 draw. At 23, the attacking midfielder appeared to have the world at his mercurial feet. However, after an impressive year, he seemed to have lost his way. That was until a return to CSKA at the start of 2009 proved the catalyst in his return to form; form that has helped Zico's team lift two trophies and awoken their No7's dream of representing Brazil at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
FIFA.com: Daniel, in 2005, you inspired CSKA to three titles, were the man of the match in the UEFA Cup final and became the first foreigner to win the Russian Player of the Year award...
Daniel Carvalho: 2005 was definitely a very special year in my career. It was my second year at CSKA, so I was already adapted to Russian football and managed to win prestigious titles with the team, including the UEFA Cup. The Player of the Year award was an important recognition of my efforts.
You suffered a dip in form after the 2006 season. What went wrong?
I think in every professional activity you have good and bad moments. It's no different in football. Sometimes injuries can hinder you. We have to learn to deal with these.
You spent a period on loan at your former club Internacional last year, and helped them win the Copa Sudamericana. How did that feel?
Titles are important in the career of any player. During my brief return to Brazil, Internacional won the Copa Sudamericana, which was an unprecedented achievement for a Brazilian club. Without doubt it was a massive achievement. I still keep an eye out for Inter and hopefully they'll be able to win the Campeonato Brasileiro for their supporters. The race is wide open, but they're in a good position and I think they're very qualified to win the title.
I'm genuinely really happy at CSKA. I want to help CSKA win the Russian championship and reach the final rounds of the Champions League.
Since returning to Russia, you have rediscovered your best form and played crucial roles in CSKA winning the Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup...
In six months since returning to CSKA I've managed to win two titles. I'm definitely pleased with this and want to continue doing my best for the team.
Has the arrival of Zico in January helped you and the team?
Zico and his entire backroom staff are doing an excellent job at CSKA, and the results on the pitch are proving this. As well as being a great coach, Zico was a great idol in Brazilian and world football. It's a huge privilege to work with him. I'm learning a lot from him.
As a dead-ball specialist, has it been an advantage to be with one of the all-time great free-kick takers?
I've practiced taking free-kicks since my first spell at Internacional. A free-kick is something that can win you a game, and it's always important for any team to have somebody with the ability to score from them. Therefore, I practice this art a lot. There have been various great free-kick specialists in history, but Zico was without doubt one of the very best. To have the opportunity to improve my technique with him is of huge benefit.
Do you think Zico has the potential to become Brazil coach in the future?
I think Zico has all the qualities needed to become Brazil coach. But Dunga's doing a great job and I'm really glad to have Zico here at CSKA. To be able to work with him is a huge privilege.
Yuri Zhirkov was recently sold to Chelsea. Has this left more responsibility on your shoulders?
Yuri is a great player and the team will definitely miss him. But I believe CSKA have a number of quality players and will maintain the form we've shown this season. As for the responsibility, it's down to the whole team, not just one player.
Do you think Zhirkov will be a hit in the English Premier League?
I believe he will. He's a great player, so much so that he was elected the best player in Russia last year. He's in a brilliant phase and has all the qualities to succeed in England. As well as being good defensively, Zhirkov has a lot of quality going forward. I think Chelsea have made a great signing and I'll be cheering for him to prove this.
With the Russian Premier League having just entered its second half, just four points separate the top five. Do you think CSKA, who are fourth with a game in hand, will emerge champions?
All the teams in the hunt have what it takes to emerge triumphant. But I definitely believe CSKA are in with a good chance of winning the title, despite the difficulties we'll face and the quality of our rivals.
One of those rivals is Spartak Moscow, who you will play next weekend. What do you anticipate from the game?
Derbies are always more difficult than other matches. Spartak are a formidable side and it will definitely be a tough game. It will be interesting because, like CSKA, they have some Brazilians, like Alex who I played alongside for Internacional last year.
One compatriot you play alongside now is Vagner Love. How do you rate him?
Vagner's a player of very high quality, principally in front of goal. Like me, he's adapted to Russian football and has helped CSKA win several honours. He's played for Brazil several times and certainly has the ability to go to the World Cup.
Let's talk a little about the national team. How did it feel to score on your debut against Norway?
Every player's ambition is to play for his country. I represented Brazil at youth level and got my first opportunity with the senior side in that game against Norway. There's always big responsibility when you're playing for Brazil, but I didn't feel the pressure. I was delighted to score on my debut and to earn the Seleção a draw on Dunga's debut.
What do you think of the job Dunga has done as Brazil coach?
Despite having had no previous experience, Dunga's done an excellent job with the Seleção. The team is in a good position in World Cup qualifying and recently won the Confederations Cup. The results represent the effort he has put in and the quality he has as a coach.
Dunga has so many outstanding players at his disposal, but if he needs me, I'm here. Representing Brazil in the World Cup would be realising a dream.
With less than a year until South Africa 2010, do you still believe you can make Dunga's squad for the tournament?
There's always hope. The World Cup is the biggest competition you can play in. Dunga has so many outstanding players at his disposal, including in my position, but if he needs me, I'm here.
One of Brazil's attacking midfield berths seems certain to be filled by Kaka, who, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, is considered among the top three players in the world by many. Which of the three do you regard as the best player?
It's a difficult question because they're all among the top players in the world, but I think Kaka is the best. He's a complete player with wonderful technique and ability.
You have been linked with a move way from CSKA. Is this something that appeals to you?
I'm genuinely really happy at CSKA. I'm comfortable with the city, my team-mates and the coaching staff. If I go to another team and another country in the future, that will be another challenge, but my objective now is to win more titles with CSKA.
Finally, what other ambitions do you have for the future?
I want to keep playing with the joy I do today, and help CSKA win the Russian championship and reach the final rounds of the Champions League. If I keep working hard and playing well for CSKA, hopefully I'll go to South Africa. Representing Brazil in the World Cup would be realising a dream.