Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Copa America 2007 Kicks Off in Venezuela

Many goals scored during match day 1

On Jun 26, the 42nd version of the world's oldest football tournament got off to an exciting start at 6:00 p.m. local time at the "Metropolitano" Stadium in the city of Merida. The first match of Group C ended in an unexpected 3-0 victory for Peru over Uruguay, since this last country has won the tournament on fourteen occasions.
Peru showed off its impressive forward line that includes Claudio Pizarro (recently transferred to Chelsea of the English Premier League), and Paolo Guerrero that plays for Hamburg in the German Bundesliga. Pizarro was in great form and tore the Uruguay defense apart with his dangerous runs into the area, a performance that he nearly topped off with a goal in the first half. It was a defender, Miguel Villalta, that scored the first goal of the Copa America with a close range header in the 26th minute. Uruguay tried to reply but its main striker, Diego Forlan (Villarreal, Spain) was completely ineffective. Peru was clearly in control of the match with the precise ground level passes made between its players. In the second
half, Peru proved that it was completely superior to Uruguay as it secured a valuable three point victory thanks to goals by Juan Carlos Marino and Paolo Guerrero in the 69th and 88th minute respectively.
However, the official opening ceremony was held at 8:00 p.m. local time in the city of San Cristobal before the match between the home team and Bolivia. As expected, President Hugo Chavez stole the show as he appeared on the middle of the pitch together with the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales and former Argentine football star, Diego Maradona. The three passed a ball among themselves and to the delight of more that 50,000 spectators it was Evo Morales that gave the "first kick" of the ball with a spectacular high shot into the air. The first match of Group A ended in a 2-2 draw between Venezuela and Bolivia.
On Jun. 24 the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF in the Spanish acronym) declared that it would propose to the President of FIFA, Joseph Blatter, its willingness to organize the next editions of the U-17 and U-20 World Cups. There are good chances of this happening since the Chavez administration has spent nearly US$ 700 million to build nine new stadiums, that are now the most modern in South America. With these stadiums Venezuela also becomes a good candidate to host the 2014 World Cup as may be an ambition for Chavez that has described them as "having nothing to envy those stadiums seen in the Olympic Games, World Cup or other events."
The Copa America continues today with a two match fixture in Puerto Ordaz that features Chile against Ecuador followed by Brazil versus Mexico.

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