Ramon Diaz was in a positive mood despite watching his Paraguay team suffer a 6-1 defeat to Argentina in their Copa America semi-final.
The pair had already met once during the group stage, with Diaz’s men producing a memorable comeback to earn a point with a 2-2 draw in their meeting in La Serena.
Their re-match in Concepcion was following the same script, as Argentina led 2-0 before Lucas Barrios pulled a goal back.
But a formidable showing after the break from Gerardo Martino’s men ensured , with Lionel Messi prominent with three assists and Angel di Maria bagging a brace.
Regardless, Diaz said the competition as a whole had been beneficial and remained optimistic about his side’s third-place play-off clash with Peru on Friday and beyond.
“We were always looking for the result, but this is the beginning of a process and there is still work to do,” the Argentine coach told a media conference.
“The team showed great dedication, hard work, so I am proud of this squad. The result may be big, but people in Paraguay have to feel proud of this team.
“This will help us to grow. We have to analyse the tournament, but we are pleased with the group.
“This Copa America is a wonderful experience for everyone. All the national teams have shown growth and a great World Cup qualification process is coming.
“Today, our opponents showed class and potential, but we are already thinking of Peru – we will do our best to get third place.
“I want to thank everyone. We will fight for third place.”
Paraguay’s task was made all the more difficult after losing both Derlis Gonzalez and Roque Santa Cruz to injury within the opening 30 minutes.
And Diaz said the Basel man and quarter-final match-winner Gonzalez will be a key absentee if he is unable to feature in the clash with Peru back in Concepcion on Friday.
“Derlis Gonzalez is one of the most important players we have. The doctor has already told us the seriousness of his injury,” Diaz said ominously.