Martino: Winning in open play not important

BUENOS AIRES - Paraguay's celebrations if they win the Copa America will be the same even if they become the first team to lift a major trophy without a single victory, coach Gerardo Martino said on Friday.

Argentine Martino's team, who reached the final after five draws including two penalty shootout wins, face favourites Uruguay in Sunday's final at River Plate's Monumental stadium.

"All that matters is to be champions. To win the Copa America is very important," Martino, who will be serving a two-match suspension in the final, told a news conference.

"All the draws came about in the same way and if we get the result on Sunday I'll still celebrate it like I did against Venezuela," he said of Paraguay's 5-3 shootout victory after a 0-0 draw in Wednesday's semi-final in Mendoza.

"If someone thinks we can't see our faults, there's no need for them to remind us when we play badly, we know that."

Paraguay drew 0-0 with Ecuador in their opening match then 2-2 with Brazil and 3-3 with Venezuela giving away equalisers in added-time. Their quarter-final with Brazil was another 0-0 draw they settled 2-0 on penalties.

Martino said if Paraguay won the trophy for the third time, and first since 1979, it would crown a process he launched in 2007, meeting goals along the way including improved World Cup qualifying results and a best-ever place in the last eight.

"It's clear Uruguay have reached the final going from less to more with their best performance against Peru [in a 2-0 semi-final win]. We're in a process that's exactly the reverse," he said.

He said he regretted his suspension, handed down after a free-for-all between Paraguayans and Venezuelans at the end of their clash in Mendoza.

"I'm sorry not to be by the pitch, not because my presence might be more or less important, but because I feel I committed another serious error and it's unpardonable for a coach not to be by his players," Martino said.

The Paraguayans have recognized they rode their luck against Brazil and Venezuela, who both created more chances and deserved to win.

But Martino's Uruguayan counterpart Oscar Tabarez said there was nothing he could to do change Paraguay's good fortune.

"The only thing we can do with luck is wish to have it," Tabarez said. "Luck is something you can't practice, control or forsee. In my case I don't worry about luck."


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