Sao Paulo, June 13: Chile head coach Reinaldo Rueda has warned his players to beware of "champions syndrome" as they prepare to defend their Copa America title in Brazil.
The Roja won the tournament for the first time in the country's history as hosts in 2015 before triumphing again the following year in a centenary edition played in the United States.
"I've put a lot of emphasis on the fact the Chile were champions in 2015 and 2016. Three years have passed and now we have to write our own history," Rueda told reporters at the team's training base in Itu, near Sao Paulo, on Wednesday.
"With champions syndrome, the holders get eliminated in the first phase because they are still walking a meter above the ground. If we start believing that we are the champions and nobody can get near us, we will suffer the same fate as Brazil, Italy, Spain and Germany in the last four World Cups," the Colombian added.
Chile will begin their Copa America campaign against guest nation Japan at Sao Paulo's Morumbi stadium on Monday before meeting Ecuador and Uruguay in Group C. Rueda, who took charge of the Roja in January last year after the team's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, lavished praise on Japan, whose squad has undergone a major revamp this year.
"If in Latin America we had the respect, obedience and discipline that Asian teams have, we would be unbeatable," the 62-year-old said. (UNI-XINHUA)