Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Qualifying matches for 2010 World Cup begin in South America

Argentina and Uruguay score three points in first match

Another grueling series of matches began for the ten South American countries on October 13 in different stadiums throughout the continent. For the next two years, the national teams of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela must play a total of 18 matches (one at home and the other away) against each of the other nine countries. The match that attracted the most attention was that played between Argentina and Chile in Buenos Aires on Saturday afternoon. The Chilean national team arrived with optimism at the Monumental Stadium in the Argentine capital due to its recent successful tour in Europe where it showed good form by losing narrowly by 2-1 to Switzerland and beating Austria by 2-0. Also the Chilean fans counted on the experience of the new coach, Marcelo Bielsa, to lead the players to a historic first ever win against its traditional rivals. However, the former coach of Argentina from 1998 to 2002 was unable to guide the team to put up an effective match strategy and after 26 minutes was already losing thanks to a precise free kick goal scored by Juan Roman Riquelme. Also the refereeing had a negative impact on the Chilean team since by the end of the first half five players had been yellow carded. In the last minute of the first half Riquelme scored yet another free kick, nearly identical to the first goal, to strike another blow to the visiting team's morale.
The fate of the match was sealed after ten minutes of the second half as Chilean defender Christian Alvarez was sent off due to a second yellow card.
The Chilean team returned on the same night from Buenos Aires and immediately went to the football federation's training center in Santiago to prepare for the next match to be played on October 17 at the National Stadium against Peru. The Peruvians also had a bad start to their campaign since in Lima they were only able to get a 0-0 draw against Paraguay. Now both teams are under pressure to get a positive result, specially Chile that will be playing in front of its home crowd, while the Peruvian Football Federation has promised to pay an undisclosed amount in prize money to each player in case they defeat Chile.
Two hours before the match in Buenos Aires, Uruguay scored its first three points as it defeated Bolivia by 5-0 at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo.The surprise result of the fixture was the 0-1 home defeat by Ecuador at the hands of Venezuela, traditionally the weakest South American national team. Later on in neighboring Bogota, the Colombian capital, the home team was unable to defeat five time World Champions Brazil and ended with one point after a goalless draw. On Oct. 16 Venezuela will be visited by Argentina, while on Oct 17. Brazil will play host to Ecuador, Colombia will travel to play against Bolivia and Paraguay will receive Uruguay.

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