Our run down of the teams involved in the 2011 Copa America, which kicks off on July 1, continues with a closer look at Bolivia.
Despite home wins for Bolivia against Argentina and Brazil during qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup their campaign finished with a whimper. La Verde may have flirted with greatness in the nineties but they have only advanced from the group stage twice in the past 30 years of the Copa América.
Momento de gloria
Bolivia got their hands on the Copa América when they first hosted the tournament in 1963. Central to la Verde’s triumph was the performances of talisman Víctor Ugarte. When Bolivia hosted again in 1997 they reached the final once more, testament to their advantage over the rest of the continent when to comes to playing at altitude.
El director técnico
Gustavo Quinteros may have been born in Argentina but that did not stop him from representing Bolivia at the 1994 World Cup. After hoovering up domestic silverware in his adopted country during stints in charge of Bolivar, Blooming and Oriente Petrolero the tactician has moved to the dugout of the national team. Quinteros plays a flexible 4-2-3-1 formation with the trio of midfielders playing off the forward moving up and down the pitch depending on circumstance.
Ronald Raldes knows all about the stadium known as the ‘Elephant’s Graveyard’ where Bolivia will take on Colombia in their last Group A game. Centre-back Raldes has been stepping over elephants for the past couple of years whilst playing his football for Colón de Santa Fe. Raldes’ second Copa América as captain of Bolivia may well be his last so he will be looking to go out on a high.
There is plenty of buzz in Bolivia surrounding forward Edivaldo Rojas. The Brazilian born and Portuguese based player was recently drafted in by Quinteros on account of his Bolivian mother. Rojas made his debut for la Verde during back-to-back friendly matches against Paraguay and was able to add a fresh dimension to the team’s attacking play.
The star of the show as far as fans of Bolivia are concerned is Marcelo Martins. The striker on the books of Shakhtar Donetsk kicked off the scoring in Bolivia’s 6-1 rout of Argentina and is viewed as the natural successor to fill the shooting boots of recently retired Joaquín Botero. Martins carries an aerial threat, the ability to find the target from range as well as a tireless work ethic.
Creative midfielder Jhasmany Campos will be charged with conjuring some spark on behalf of Bolivia. The 23-year-old will look to bring the understanding he has forged with Oriente Petrolero team-mate Joselito Vaca into play for the national team. Campos will be hoping to add to his Copa América memory bank which already includes a goal against Peru four years ago.
While Quinteros sweats on the fitness of defensive pair Edemir Rodríguez and Miguel Hoyos the door remains ajar for Juan Carlos Sánchez and Miguel Loaiza. Despite already winning a senior cap there is no place for promising midfielder Samuel Galindo.
Rumores de transferencia
After captaining Bolivia at youth level Samuel Galindo was snapped up by Arsenal. In the mould of Patrick Vieira, the 19-year-old is highly regarded at The Emirates and spent last season on loan to Salamanca.
Marcelo Martins’ fledgling relationship with Jéssica Ortiz is front page news in Bolivia. The perfect gentlemen, el Matador remains tight-lipped about the romance amidst rumours that he and la Diva Cruceña are engaged to be married.
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La opinión experta
We know it’s going to be tough because we have been struggling for the last couple of years. What I would like to see during this tournament is evidence that things are improving. It would be a lie if I said we are going to win the Copa América but we live in hope and you never know what may happen. My biggest wish is to see Bolivia finding a way to play some good football. Also it would be great to see the young members of squad recognising what an honour it is to play for their country. We are not where we want to be but if we can start to perform better and get a few results we will know we are moving in the right direction.
Jamie Moreno - ex-Bolivia and Middlesborough
Bolivia will be focused on staying off the bottom of Group A and the game against Costa Rica is key to deciding if they can manage this task.
There’s a chance that facing the hosts in the curtain raiser can work out in Bolivia’s favour but they will still have to play the game of their lives to get anything from the fixture. Even if they lose to Argentina and Colombia, three points against Costa Rica could still see them making the quarter-finals. The chances of progressing any further than the last eight however are slim to nil.
¿Por qué ser fanático?
There are few hardier souls on the planet than Bolivia’s mining community. The edge is taken off the grueling 14-hour shifts by chewing coca leaves and pulling back on industrial strength Derby cigarettes. Also thrown into the mix is their favourite tipple of pure alcohol which results in many of the miners being totally shafted by the time they come off shift.
¿Un club en League Two?
No team enjoys visiting the altitude of La Paz in much the same way that clubs fear playing on the sloped pitch at Underhill. Despite the lofty perches of both Bolivia and Barnet FC they are still looked down upon by their more illustrious neighbours.
Grab a cup full of singani and soak it up with a plate of saice. When the time is right throw a few shapes to the Rock ‘n’ Bol sound of Los Kjarkas as the party spills out onto El Paseo de El Prado.
There is no president in the world more passionate about his football than Bolivia’s Evo Morales. After getting his break in politics working for his local football authority Evo went onto become the first indigenous leader of his people since the days of Spanish colonialism. An outspoken critic of FIFA, Evo described Sepp Blatter’s ban on football being played at extreme altitude as “football’s apartheid”.
Goalkeepers: Carlos Arias (Maccabi Netanya, ISR), Sergio Galarza (Blooming, BOL), Daniel Vaca (The Strongest, BOL)
Defenders: Miguel Ángel Hoyos and Luis Gutiérrez (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Christian Vargas (San José, BOL), Ronald Raldes (Colón, ARG), Ronald Rivero, Edemir Rodríguez and Lorgio Álvarez (Bolívar, BOL), Santos Amador (Nacional Potosí, BOL)
Midfielders: Joselito Vaca and Jhasmani Campos (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Ronald García, Wálter Flores and Rudy Cardozo (Bolívar, BOL), Jaime Robles (Aurora, BOL), José Luis Chávez and Alejandro Gómez (Blooming, BOL)
Forwards: Marcelo Martins Moreno (Shakhtar Donetsk, UKR), Ricardo Pedriel (Sivasspor, TUR), Alcides Peña, Mauricio Saucedo and Juan Carlos Arce (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Edivaldo Rojas (Naval, POR).
*Two outfield players still to be trimmed from squad
v Argentina 01/07/2011 21:45 La Plata
v Costa Rica 07/07/2011 19:45 San Salvador de Jujuy
v Colombia 10/07/2011 16:00 Santa Fe
Fifa ranking: 102
Odds to win: 200/1
Copa America record: P102 W19 D25 L58 F97 A257
Copa America best: 1963 Champions
More teams will follow in this daily series. Plus, for more on Copa America 2011, listen to The South American Football Show.