Dunga: It could go either way
© AFP

Winning has always come naturally to Dunga. Right from his early days with Internacional and throughout a career that took him to Italy and Germany and reached a pinnacle with victory at USA 1994, the former holding midfielder showed his competitive streak time and time again. Having now taken on the national coaching duties, he is intent on instilling his character in a team looking to win Brazil's first ever Olympic football gold medal.

To achieve that, however, the Canarinha will first of all need to remove some formidable opponents from their path on Tuesday. Standing in their way are defending champions Argentina, who, like the Brazilians, are yet to lose a game at Beijing 2008. As the countdown to the much-awaited clash continued, FIFA.com gauged the thoughts of the midfield general turned tactician, who is expecting plenty of entertainment when the two South American giants meet.

An absorbing spectacle
"History and the quality of players on show suggests that both sides are going to go on the attack right from the kick-off," says Dunga, who does not share his opposite number Sergio Batista's belief that Tuesday's second semi-final will be a tight, tactical affair. "Both the Argentinians and ourselves have players with the same creative characteristics, and that makes me think we'll see an exciting match."

It is Batista's belief that Brazil will repeat the tactics that served them so well in the final of the 2007 Copa America by sitting back and letting Argentina come on to them, a comparison Dunga is at pains to reject. "I don't think you can compare that game with this one. Every tournament is different, and the Olympic Games even more so because of the special atmosphere they have. It's hard to predict but I really wouldn't use that game as a benchmark."

One area where the two strategists do share common ground, aside from both being FIFA World Cup™ winners, is their admiration for each other's qualities. "Batista is doing a terrific job with this team and that's been plain to see throughout the tournament. Perhaps the only difference between us is that I'm also in charge of the full team.

Age-old adversaries
At the age of 45, Dunga is a veteran of many battles with the Albiceleste, which makes him an authority on the importance of a game such as Tuesday's. "The reason for it all is very simple. They are the two South American teams with the most world titles and they're almost always there in the final rounds of the biggest tournaments. It's a historical rivalry and every time they meet there's always a lot of expectation. This time's no exception of course."

In the most recent meeting between the two nations barely six weeks ago, a goalless draw in a qualifying match for South Africa 2010, Dunga and his men were booed off the field by their irate fans. Even so, his confidence and that of his younger charges remains undiminished. "The team knows the difficulties we've had just to get this far, and they're pleased to have reached this stage of the competition. They are confident, secure in themselves and they know what they want. That's vital when the time comes to battle it out for the right result."

So just what would victory against Lionel Messi and Co mean? A gold medal perhaps? Once again, Dunga makes a point of dampening down expectations. "There's no way you can say this match will decide who wins the title. In a tournament like this, every game is decisive and it's impossible to predict who's going to end up with the gold medal. I hope it's us, but you can't rule out the other semi-finalists either. This is just another step, that's all."