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






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