More trouble with the neighbours for Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO - After impressive wins over two of Europe's most powerful teams, Brazil had more trouble with the neighbours as they were held 1-1 by Ecuador in Sunday's 2010 World Cup qualifier. Dunga's team, who thrashed Portugal 6-2 in November and outclassed Italy in a 2-0 win in February, have struggled against much less prestigious opposition from their own back yard. They have drawn six of their 11 World Cup qualifiers, including 0-0 draws home and away to Colombia, a 1-1 draw in Peru and a 0-0 draw at home to Bolivia. Brazil also lost 2-0 away to Paraguay where, as on Sunday in Quito, they were hopelessly outplayed. The only team to have played at every World Cup, Brazil have slipped to fourth in the 10-team South American group with 18 points from 11 games. Paraguay lead with 23, followed by Argentina and Chile on 19 while Uruguay are fifth with 16. The top four qualify directly for South Africa while the fifth team plays off against the fourth side from the CONCACAF region. Only two points clear of fifth spot, Brazil are now in danger of having to put their unique record on the line in a two-leg playoff against opponents which could potentially include Mexico. Dunga has blamed travelling, altitude and the hostile environment at away games for his team's problems in South America. After Sunday's game, he told Brazilian media: "The result was normal." His critics are not impressed by Dunga's arguments that not have time to train the team. In a newspaper column on Sunday, 1970 World Cup winner Tostao questioned the coach's training methods. "I've seen on television that the team has been training basic fundamentals," he said. "I don't give much importance to this type of training in a national team, especially against cones. "It would be excellent in a club, particularly in the youth divisions. For the national team, it would be better to practice game situations such as marking further upfield, set pieces, positioning the defence. "But they say there's no time... because they need to play piggy-in-the-middle and the useless two-touch games on a small pitch and with the players out of position." Fernando Calazans, writing for the Globo newspaper before the game, said Brazil had become over-dependent on their big names such as Kaka, who missed the match with a foot injury, and Ronaldinho, who barely touched the ball before being substituted. "If they play well, we can give Italy the run-around. If they don't we can quite easily lose or draw with Ecuador," he said.