Friday, June 20, 2008

Chile Fans Inspired after Victory over Venezuela

National football team in third place of 2010 W.Cup qualifiers

If the qualifying tournament for the next World Cup was to end today then Chile would be one of the four South American teams classified to play in that event. However, Chile still has to score enough points in the remaining twelve matches, (the last of which must be played in December 2009), in order to book tickets to the world’s biggest sporting event.
After defeating Bolivia four days earlier by 2-0 in the altitude and cold of La Paz, on June 19 the Chilean national team had to play in the intense tropical heat of Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, against the local team. There was a full house of 40,000 spectators at the modern General Anzoategui Stadium that was inaugurated last year for the 2007 Copa America, (S.American nations tournament). The local fans were in a confident mood due to the good form shown by its national team that in the previous match drew with Uruguay in Montevideo and had also beaten Brazil two weeks ago. As the match began, a rainstorm began that made the pitch very slippery and many players had to change boots to cling to the surface. Even so Chile began to control the actions and in the 18th minute Alexis Sanchez (River Plate, Argentina) could have scored but his shot rebounded off the left post. Venezuela then reacted and leveled the play but the first half ended without any goals being scored.
In the 58th minute of the second half the local fans went into ecstasy as a free kick taken by Giancarlo Maldonado was deflected by a Chilean defender into the goal defended by Claudio Bravo. Chile struck back quickly as only four minutes later Alexis Sanchez was fouled in the area by a Venezuelan defender. It was Humberto Suazo, currently playing for Monterrey and leading goalscorer of the Mexican league that equalized by scoring the penalty.
The local fans reacted angrily by throwing beer bottles at the Chilean players and coaching staff but their spirits died down as in the 71st minute Chile scored yet again as Gonzalo Jara connected a free kick cross from the left wing taken by Marco Estrada.
It seemed that Chile´s 100th World Cup qualifying match would end in a 2-2 draw since in the 80th minute Juan Arango scored for Venezuela after a fast counterattack, but the match would have a spectacular ending. In the 92nd minute Suazo received a good pass from Sanchez and scored with a hard low shot from outside the area. After the end of the sixth round, Chile has ten points and shares third place with Colombia, while Paraguay is first still with 13 points after a surprise defeat to Bolivia by 4-2. Second is Argentina with 11 points that drew 0-0 with Brazil that is now in fifth place with 9 points. The outsiders are Uruguay with 8 points, Venezuela (7 points), Ecuador (5 points), Bolivia and Peru with 4 and 3 points respectively.

Starting Lineups:

Chile: C.Bravo, G.Medel,C.Carmona, G.Jara, R.Cereceda, J.Beausejour, I.Fuentes,M.Estrada, P.Morales,A.Sanchez,H.Suazo.

Venezuela: R.Vega,G.Chacon,L.Vielma, J.Rey,J.Hernandez,M.Mea Vitali, J.Rojas,R.Vargas,A.Rondon,J.Arango,R.Vargas.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Chile Gets Breathtaking Win Over Bolivia in La Paz

Results of S.American 2010 World Cup Qualifiers

On June 15, the Chilean national football team took a positive step forward in its attempt to qualify for the FIFA World Cup to be held in 2010 in South Africa. The preparation process designed by coach Marcelo Bielsa (that includes banning all press reporters from training sessions) paid off as Chile scored another three points with a 2-0 victory over Bolivia. Due to the altitude of La Paz, (the world’s highest capital city at 3600 meters), Bielsa traveled two-weeks ago with the team of young players with an average age of 23 to the city of Calama in Chile´s northern desert area. Calama is located at an altitude of 2.500 meters and helped the players get used to running with less oxygen and also to the longer distances covered by the ball due to the lighter atmosphere. The Chilean delegation took the flight to La Paz only four hours before the match in order to reduce the effects of “La Puna” (a local term used for the side effects of the altitude such as dizziness and difficulties in breathing). As the match began, the Chilean team surprised fans from both countries at the Hernando Siles Stadium by immediately taking the initiative and had its first clear chances of scoring in the 15th and 17th minutes by means of striker Alexis Sanchez (River Plate, Argentina).
Ten minutes later it would be a defender, Gary “Pitbull” Medel that would open up the scoreboard with a spectacular overhead kick after a shot by Pedro Morales hit the crossbar. By now many Chilean players were showing the effects of the altitude but were able to end the first half with the one goal lead. In the second half Bolivia reacted and took control of the match but was unable to equalize. Gary Medel became the hero of the evening since during a counterattack in the 75th minute the defender scored yet again with a close range low shot after connecting with the ball from a corner on the right wing.
After the match the Chilean players celebrated on the pitch and captain Claudio Bravo sent a televised message to some teammates that had not shown much interest in playing for the national team due to Bielsa´s harsh discipline. “Instead of going to discotheques or being at home with your family you guys should be here playing for your country,” said Bravo. Will Chile will be able to repeat this performance next Thursday in Puerto la Cruz against Venezuela?. The local team has improved tremendously and is not the pushover team it once used to be and also got a good result as it managed to draw 1-1 with Uruguay on June 14 at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo. Apart from this result, Venezuela defeated Brazil for the first time in its history during a friendly match played two weeks ago in Boston, U.S.A, so the local players are in a confident mood and have promised to defeat Chile.

In the other matches played on June 15, Ecuador was only seconds from getting a historic result in Buenos Aires against two time world champions Argentina. With only three minutes remaining Ecuador was winning one nil when local coach Alfio Basile made a desperate move and put on striker Rodrigo Palacio that managed to equalize with only seconds of the match remaining. Meanwhile in Asuncion, Paraguay, the home team proved that its good form is no lucky streak as it defeated Brazil by 2-0. Paraguay is now the leader in the points table with 13, followed by Argentina with 10 points, Colombia 9, Brazil 8,Venezuela and Chile with 7, while Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia are out of the race with 5, 4, 3 and 1 points respectively.

The next fixtures are as follows:

June 17-18, 2008






Thursday, June 05, 2008

S.America Gears Up for 2010 World Cup Qualifiers

Brazil will play Argentina and Chile coach nominates players

The excitement increases among the local fans as the Brazilian national team prepares to face its archrival, Argentina on June 18. The qualifying match for the 2010 World Cup will be played at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte and there will surely be a full house of approximately 60,000 spectators. However Brazil, will first have to travel to Asuncion, Paraguay to play the local team on June 14. Paraguay has an unbeaten record in a difficult qualifying tournament, (where each team must play eighteen matches in a two year period) including a win against Chile by 3-0 in Santiago and will prove a hard rival for the Brazilians. Even so, some players of the “Green and Yellow” team (the nickname given by its fans to the Brazilian national team) have declared that they are more interested in beating Argentina. “Due to the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, this match has a unique importance. We respect Argentina,but Brazil must also be respected,” said Diego, an attacking midfielder currently playing for Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga.
With regards to the absence of two key players, Kaka (A.C.Milan) and Ronaldino Gaucho (Barcelona) , Diego stated that he was sure that those players replacing them would perform well.

The other fixtures are as follows :

June 14-15, 2008






June 17-18, 2008






Copa Libertadores (S. American Club Champions League)

On June 4, at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Fluminense qualified for the finals of the Libertadores Cup after defeating Boca Juniors of Argentina by 3-1. Boca Juniors (last year´s champions) started off well after Martin Palermo scored in the 57th minute but Fluminense struck back immediately with a spectacular free kick goal by Washington only five minutes later. Goals by Dario Conca (70th minute) and Dodo (92nd min.), secured Fluminense´s victory over Boca Juniors. The match ended on a sour note as yet again Argentine players were involved in a brawl with local police and rival players. Fluminense is one of Rio´s most popular clubs but had never qualified for the final of the Libertadores, the most prestigious club tournament in South America. Next week Fluminense will have to play a relatively unknown team,Liga Deportiva Universitaria of Quito,Ecuador in a two way final.

Chile National Team:
Marcelo Bielsa (S.America´s highest paid national team coach) recently published in the football federation webpage the list of players that will take part in the next two qualifying matches against Bolivia (June 15) and Venezuela (June 19). Until now Chile has only beaten Peru, lost to Argentina and Paraguay and drawn with Uruguay.
The match against Bolivia will be played in La Paz, the world’s highest capital city, at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,811 feet) while Puerto La Cruz, in the intense heat of Venezuela’s amazon jungle area will host the second game against the local team. Bielsa´s list caused a controversy among the Chilean press and fans since many key players were left out for different reasons. Jorge Valdivia, recently voted best player of the Brazilian league was left out by Bielsa since the coach believes that “ it´s not the right moment for Valdivia to play”. Bielsa also showed that he privileges discipline over playing capacity by rejecting Arturo Vidal (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Claudio Maldonado (Fenehrbace, Turkey) and Luis Jimenez (Inter Milan, Italy). Vidal was not included in the squad after refusing to take part in a preparation tournament in France. Instead, Vidal declared that he needed a rest and traveled from Germany to Santiago where was seen on many occasions partying in exclusive discoteques. Maldonado angered Bielsa by stating in a Turkish newspaper that “to play in La Paz at such an altitude is dangerous for players.” The absence of Luis Jimenez was the most expected since the Inter Milan player just does not get along with Bielsa. The coach has left Jimenez as a replacement on several matches and since then the player has shown little interest in playing for Chile.
The full list of players published in the ANFP(Chile federation) webpage is as follows:

Christopher Toselli (GK) U. Católica (Chile)
Claudio Bravo (GK) Real Sociedad (Spain)
Miguel Pinto (GK) U. de Chile
Osvaldo Gonzalez U. de Concepción (Chile)
Waldo Ponce Velez Sarsfield (Argentina)
Rafael Caroca Colo Colo (Chile)
Gonzalo Jara Colo Colo
Cristian Álvarez Beitar Jerusalén (Israel)
Ismael Fuentes Jaguares de Chiapas
Hugo Droguett Tecos (Mexico)
Roberto Cereceda Colo Colo
Gary Medel U. Católica (Chile)
José P. Fuenzalida Colo Colo
Manuel Iturra U. de Chile
Carlos Carmona O'Higgins (Chile)
Pedro Morales U. de Chile
Carlos Villanueva Real Sociedad (Spain)
Fabián Orellana Audax Italiano (Chile)
Alexis Sánchez River Plate (Argentina)
Mark González Betis (Spain)
Jean Beausejour O'Higgins
Daud Gazale D. Concepción
Humberto Suazo Monterrey (Mexico)