FIFA World Cup 2018™: Peru’s Historic Qualification

FIFA World Cup 2018™: Peru’s Historic Qualification

South American qualification for the World
Cup finals looks deceptively easy. There is one group, 10 teams and almost half the teams
qualify (exactly half if the team that finishes 5th wins its inter continental play off).
Only one team from South America’s confederation, CONEMBOL, has failed to qualify for the World
Cup: Venezuela. Aside from the fact that South American qualification
has three former World Cup winners in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, almost every game represents
an intense rivalry. Brazil v Argentina, the Superclasico Sudamericano
is well known. Argentina v Uruguay is one of the oldest international rivalries in world
football. And neighbours Chile and Peru fight the Clásico del Pacífico which would, once
again, flare up during qualification for Russia 2018. More on that later. There is also the issue of altitude. The national
stadiums in La Paz and Quito (home to Bolivia and Ecuador) are the two highest in the world,
giving the home teams a huge advantage. Visiting teams have used to everything from oxygen
tents to Viagra to combat the thin air but it still somewhat levels the playing field. Still, after two rounds there was one team
that didn’t look like it was going anywhere near Russia 2018, whether the matches were
played in the mountains or at sea level. Peru were present at the first World Cup finals
in Uruguay in 1930 but went home after two games. Still, two records were broken. According
to FIFA Peru’s captain Plácido Galindo became the first player to be shown a red card, during
a bad tempered 3-1 loss to Romania. The same game, held at the Estadio Pocitos in Montevedio,
is officially the lowest attended World Cup match in history. A national holiday fell
on the same day and Uruguayan fans decided to stay at home. Los Incas didn’t make another finals until
1970 but, with the advent of colour television, Peru made quite the splash by reaching the
quarter finals wearing their iconic white kit with a red diagonal sash. But Peru are perhaps best remembered, at least
in the UK, for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, where they played a confident Scotland team
in their opening game. Scotland was led by coach Ally MacLeod who had suggested that
Scotland might actually have what it takes to win the tournament. Instead, Peru demolished
Scotland 3-1 with Teófilo Cubillas famously scoring an outrageous free kick with the outside
of his right boot. “I would like to congratulate Scotland and Mr MacLeod on the team they presented
to us,” Peru’s manager Marcos Calderón said after the game. Scotland went home early whilst Peru reached
the penultimate round but would be involved in arguably the most infamous game in World
Cup history. Hosts Argentina were ruled by a military junta desperate for their reputation
to be laundered by the World Cup. To reach the final they had to beat Peru by four clear
goals. They won 6-0 which, as an added bonus for La Albiceleste fans, eliminated Brazil
in the process. Ever since there has been fierce debate over whether the match was fixed
by the junta. In 2012 a Peruvian senator, Genaro Ledesma, claimed a deal was made between
the two countries’ presidents to fix the match in return for the release of a dozen activists
who had been tortured in Argentine jails. Both sets of players maintain that the game
was not fixed. Peru returned in 1982, but their 5-1 defeat
to Poland would be their last World Cup appearance. And Russia looked beyond them too after losing
their first two games. The second game was against arch rivals Chile in Lima. On October
13, 2015, Peru lost 4-3 with their goals coming from two players whose goals would have a
huge say in World Cup qualification. Former Schalke and current Locomotive Moscow striker
Jefferson Farfán and former Bayern and current Flamengo striker Paolo Guerrero. Guerrero
was both the team’s captain and record goalscorer. After the victory Chile’s players scrawled
a message on the walls of the dressing room at the Estadio Nacional de Lima: “Respecto!!!
Por Aqui Paso El Campeon De America.” Respect! Here passed the champions of the Americas. Chile had just won the Copa America, beating
Peru in a bad tempered semi final, and had received a ferocious welcome in Lima by Los
Incas fans, prompting the graffiti. Peru didn’t forget the words written on their dressing
room wall. By the seventh round of games Peru had won
just one game, drawn one and losing five including a 2-0 defeat to Ecuador in Quito. But the
turn around came about thanks, in part, to Nelson Cabrera and in part to Chilean lawyers.
The defender had played a single friendly for Paraguay, the country of his birth. But
he also held Bolivian citizenship and switched in 2016 for the World Cup qualifiers. After
a 0-0 draw with Chile, the Chilean FA lodged a complaint with FIFA over Cabrera’s presence.
FIFA later found that he was ineligible and two of Bolivia’s games were awarded as 3-0
victories to the opposition, virtually ending their chances of going to Russia. It gave
Chile and extra two points but crucially, also boosted Peru. Peru beat Ecuador in the next game in Lima,
and scored late on to draw 2-2 with Argentina. Peru would go on to lose just once in ten
games. It all came down to the last round of games.
Brazil had become the first nation, after the hosts, to qualify. Uruguay had also qualified.
But Argentina and Chile, who had both had poor campaigns, were in danger of missing
out as did Colombia. Peru needed something against Colombia to have any chance, Argentina
needed to beat Ecuador and Chile needed a result against Brazil. Paraguay meanwhile
missed out after somehow losing to already eliminated Venezuela, at home, 1-0. Brazil easily dispensed with Chile 3-0, leaving
Chile at the mercy of results elsewhere. A Lionel Messi hat trick saw Argentina qualify. That left Peru versus Colombia. If Peru lost,
Chile was home and dry. A draw would see Colombia qualify and Peru in the play off spot on goal
difference. A Colombia goal scored by James Rodriguez early in the second half in Lima
gave Chile hope. But then, controversy. In the 77th minute Peru won an indirect free
kick outside the box. Paolo Guerrero decided to strike the ball at the goal anyway, which
Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina punched as it went in. If Ospina had not touched the
ball, the goal would have been chalked off. And if the score stayed 1-0, Chile would have
replaced Peru. But as Ospina had touched it, it stood, and went down as an own goal. Peru
was in the play off places, beating Chile on goal difference. As you can imagine, this did not go down at
all well in Santiago. The Chilean press was apoplectic as footage emerged of Colombia
striker Falcao consulting with Peru’s players before the end of the game. He had covered
his mouth as he did it. This, for many Chileans, was proof that the two teams had colluded
to play out a draw that would see both move on, with the Chileans eliminated. “Obviously
we were aware of what was going on in the other games,” Falcao later said. “We were
playing with knowledge of the other results and, in that moment, [we wanted] to make that
known.” He denied that the players had agreed a “non-aggression pact.” In the end, the Chilean FA decided against
appealing to FIFA. Ironically, it was their appeal over the Bolivian player Nelson Cabrera
that, you might say, cost them a play off place. If they hadn’t have appealled Chile
would be in the playoffs ahead of both Peru and Paraguay. Instead, it was Peru in the play off against
New Zealand. The first match in New Zealand ended 0-0. The second in Lima would go down
in Peruvian history. The All Whites would receive a warm Peruvian welcome. Michael Burgess,
a journalist with the New Zealand Herald, described how their flight was inexplicably
delayed by four hours before landing in Lima. The journey to the hotel took twice as long
too, meaning the All Whites arrived in the early hours of the morning. The following
night, a barrage of fireworks were set off outside their hotel at 3.30am. At a packed Estadio Nacional de Lima, Peru
eased to a 2-0 victory sparking wild celebrations in Lima. And Los Incas had not forgotten what
had happened against Chile two years before. “The one who does not jump is Chilean!”
midfielder Christian Cueva said to the crowd when he was handed the stadium microphone
after the game. And so, a fairytale ending. Not quite. A few weeks later Paolo Guerrero, Peru’s talismanic
captain and joint top scorer in World Cup qualification, failed a drugs test after the
0-0 draw with Argentina. He testing positive for cocaine, although Guerrero has maintained
his innocence, claiming he must have failed the test because of tainted tea. FIFA suspended him and his World Cup was over.
However, they later halved his suspension, which would now end before the start of the
tournament. He was included in Peru’s provisional World Cup squad. The Peruvian FA even tweeted
out a picture of their record top scorer taking part in a team photoshoot and being measured
up for his World Cup squad. But the World Anti Doping Agency appealed to the Court of
Arbitration for Sport and his ban was extended. CAS agreed that Guerrero was not trying to
seek an advantage, but “the panel considered that the player did bear some fault or negligence,
even if it was not significant.” Hundreds of Los Incas fans protested in Lima,
but to no avail. Guerrero would miss the World Cup after all. The incident has cast a shadow over Peru’s
first World Cup in 36 years. But given the unlikely events that led to Los Incas’ qualification
in the first place, Denmark, Australia and France would do well not to take them lightly. END

40 Replies to “FIFA World Cup 2018™: Peru’s Historic Qualification”

  1. Ally Macleod never said Scotland would win it he said we want to go far, win a medal (what ever that would be), preferably a gold. But the media built it up just to knock them down again

  2. good to note, new Zealand Dt was threatening and asking fans to do the same while Peru was there (this was first) Peruvians where mad and did it too when they had to play in Peru

  3. As a Colombian I'm so happy for my Peruvian brothers! I hope you guys have a great world cup, cheer's from Miami ( I live there)!

  4. . . …. Que bonito es lo bonito!.. callerles la boca a los Peruanos hocicones por creídos y orgullosos. Nacidos para perder

  5. Peru, I am proud that I was born in your beautiful land. I am proud of the country that saw me grow up. I am with you Peru until the end. No matter what happens, I will always love the country that opened its arms to me when I was born.

  6. Respect for Peru They didn't make the round of 16 but they won with honor versus Austrailia and landed them in 3rd place in thier group

  7. 4:21 peru never lost with Ecuador in Quito in these qualifiers 2018, with which he lost in peace and won points at the table was with Bolivia (2-0)

  8. When my dad was 8 he watched Peru’s last WC. Then after 36 years he waited for Peru.
    We finally made it in the WC!

  9. I was very proud of Peru for returning to the World Cup. As an American of Peruvian descent, i was celebrating with my whole family and we cried for their return.

  10. Please stop calling the country "Columbia". That's a district in the US. The name of the country is Colombia.

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