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Jun 29, 2009

Beaten but unbowed Bradley hails improving U.S.

USA coach Bob Bradley saw his side throw away a two-goal lead over Brazil in Sunday night's Confederations Cup final - but then warned the world that his men are becoming genuine contenders on the global stage.

The South Americans were in all sorts of trouble less than half an hour into the final at Johannesburg's Ellis Park thanks to goals from Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, and went into half-time trailing 2-0.

But Luis Fabiano halved the deficit almost immediately after the break and then drew his side level with 16 minutes to play, before a late header from Lucio broke American hearts.

''The feeling is of great disappointment, but also of great pride. When we get past the disappointment, we know we are making progress,'' said Bradley.

''We will learn from these kinds of experiences and these kind of games, but it doesn't make it any easier on the night. It's been a experience for our team, playing the teams we played and to get to the final.

''But beyond that, the experience for our players in South Africa has been very special. It's something we'll remember and give us motivation to be back here next year for the World Cup.''

Brazil coach Dunga never doubted his side could stage a rousing comeback.

''To overcome a 2-0 deficit is never easy, but if you have committed players that never give up, you always have a chance and we showed that tonight,'' Dunga said after his team successfully defended the title they won in Germany four years ago.

''I think all the players were still focussed on what needed to be done. Being two goals down after 27 minutes, they were still sure of themselves. We were very determined and simply wanted to win.

''The US has always had a competitive team. They are a very tactical team, very disciplined and very physical team. It's always difficult to beat them.''

Asked about his half-time team-talk, the 45-year-old continued: ''I said to them at half-time that something was lacking. A lack of good positioning, so we corrected that and we started pressurising our opponents, with the reward of a goal by Luis Fabiano.

''I brought on two faster players and we also brought on Elano, a very tactical player, and went forward making use of the wings better and scored.''

Man of the match and player of the tournament, Kaka, was modest after receiving his awards, saying that praise should be given to the whole team.

He said: ''The most important thing as I've always said is to win as a unit. All of that happened and Brazil was the champion.

''If it hadn't been for the team I wouldn't have been the best player or the man of the match.''

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