MENDOZA, Argentina — Venezuela is optimistic about its football future after coming agonizingly close to reaching its first ever Copa America final but ultimately losing to Paraguay on penalties in Wednesday's semifinal.

Although Venezuela's surprising run through the tournament came to an end in the shootout defeat, coach Cesar Farias and his players said the team's campaign in the South American competition is proof that Venezuela is here to stay as a contender in the region.

Farias says Venezuela doesn't fear any other team and will not be "disrespected" anymore.

The Venezuelans, known more for their baseball than football, twice hit the post in extra time of a game that ended goalless.