Our Copa America previews continue with a closer look at Peru.
Peruvian football fans have had little to cheer since the days of Teófilo Cubillas and Héctor Chumpitaz with no World Cup appearance since 1986. La Blanquirroja arrive at the Copa América as officially the worse team in South America after finishing up in bottom spot in the qualification series for South Africa. The arrival of Uruguayan head coach Sergio Markarián was the cause for some temporary optimism but even he has struggled to form a competitive team from Peru’s shallow pool of talent.
Momento de gloria
The first of Perú’s brace of Copa América titles came way back in 1939 as they played and beat the cream of the continent. The hosts were able to call on the deadly shooting boots of Teodoro Fernández and Jorge Alcalde, the partnership dubbed Lolo and Campolo banged in 12 goals between them in four matches. Calling the shots from the Peruvian dugout was County Durham born gaffer Jack Greenwell. As well as being one of the most successful managers in Barcelona’s history, the triumph in 1939 also marks Greenwell out as the only non-South America born coach to win the Copa América.
El director técnico
Sergio Markarián combined an amateur football career with climbing the ranks in the combustibles business. With a heavy heart he left the fuel game to answer his true calling as a football manager. El Mago can already look back on a coaching career that has seem him win titles in his native Uruguay as well as Chile, Paraguay and Perú. Excited by the project to lift la Blanquirroja out of the doldrums, Markarián took the job and became South America’s second highest paid national coach into the bargain. Markarián will be thinking on his feet in Argentina after injuries to Bundesliga pair Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfán disrupted his plans in attack.
Markarián will be crossing everything in the hope that Juan Manuel Vargas can shake off his calf injury and wear the armband for Perú in their opener against Uruguay. With other key members of la Blanquirroja’s dropping like flies, the quality of Vargas will be more important than ever to their chances of achieving anything in Argentina. Jardo acts as the heartbeat of the Peruvian set-up as he gets stuck into the opposition and builds attacks from deep. Despite a long history of niggling injuries, Vargas is well on the way to clocking up 200 appearances in Italy’s Serie A.
Paolo Guerrero came into the national team alongside Vargas during Peru’s failed qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup. Guerrero may have missed out on representing his country in Germany but he already acquired a taste for Bratwurst after being snapped up by Bayern Munich in 2002. Depredador scored goals for fun in Bayern’s reserve ranks before getting his chance with the first team. Limited opportunities with the German giants saw Guerrero move to Hamburg where he remains an important player and enjoys his own special love/hate relationship with Rothosen fans.
Since kicking off his career with Deportivo Wanka there has been a fair share of ups and downs for Santiago Acasiete. A starring role in Peruvian outfit Cienciano’s continental triumphs landed Acasiete a move to Spain where he helped Almería break into the top flight. Chany is now preparing for his third Copa América campaign with his country, despite smuggling women and alcohol into the team hotel days before a 5-1 beating at the hands of Ecuador a few years ago.
With injuries decimating Peru’s attacking plans it looks as though Sergio Markarián will have no option but to pin his hopes on Luis Advíncula. At just 21-years-old this tournament may have come a touch too early for the player who has been given the nickname Usain Bolt in his homeland. During his spells with Juan Aurich and Sporting Cristal the forward has already proved that he can wreak havoc on defences even if his finishing often leaves a bit to be desired.
The news that former Chelsea frontman Claudio Pizarro was out of the Copa América on account of a knee injury landed like a lead balloon in Perú. This slice of bad luck was followed up by Jefferson Farfán of Schalke 04 withdrawing from the squad.
Rumores de transferencia
Nobby Solano to Hartlepool United - done deal, Juan Vargas to Liverpool
Jefferson Farfán and Melissa Klug are one couple you don’t want to be messing about with. At a New Year’s Eve party Melissa broke the nose of former Peruvian international Flavio Maestri. Four days later Farfán himself was scrapping in the street after a passer-by made an unsavory comment about Melissa.
Síguelo en Twitter
@ElLocoVargas - SI la verdad que con markarian haremos un buen papael en la copa america y eliminatorias
La opinión experta
It’s really taxing me to come up with a starting XI. It’s hard for me not to think how good we could be if we had everyone available. It’s tough because we have the group of players who are injured, plus some other players I would like to have here but just couldn’t find room for in the 23-man squad. My preference would be to play a 4-3-3 but it would only work if I had players with the experience and talent such as Farfán, Pizarro, Vargas and Guerrero all fit and ready to go. I’m left looking for a way to deploy the power we have at our disposal in the best manner to achieve results. If we have to change the system then we can do it and I believe we’re adaptable enough to come through these set-backs. I trust my players with two important things; following my tactics and carrying the right attitude onto the pitch. Vargas will have to start on the bench but I will look to give him some minutes to help his preparation for the second game. It’s no secret how much we need him but we have to be careful not to rush him back.
Sergio Markarián - Head Coach of Perú
Sergio Markarián can use having such a depleted squad as an extremely valid excuse to cool any wild expectations back home. Markarián is being paid his money to ensure Perú compete in the 2014 World Cup qualification series, so having his hand forced into using some of his young players could be seen as an advantage to him. After all, nobody in their right mind is expecting this Perú team to pull up any trees at this tournament.
Perú are preparing to enter a world of pain at the 2011 Copa América in their Group C opener and closer against Uruguay and Chile respectively. The match with México represents la Blanquirroja’s only realistic chance of securing a point or three and should make for one of the more entertaining encounters of the group stage. Perú will be packing their bags and heading home after three games.
¿Por qué ser fanático?
When the Beach Boys sung “From Hawaii to the shores of Perú” the line had more meaning than the Wilson boys just grabbing any old rhyme to lay over Chuck Berry’s rhythm. The beaches at La Herradura, Pico Alto and Punta Hermosa wash up some of the best swell in the world and Perú’s surfing scene is currently riding the crest of a wave. Peruvian surfer Sofía Mulánovich recently became the first South American to win the women’s world title and in 2010 Gabriel Villarán led the Peruvian team to the gold medal spot at the ISA World Surfing Games.
¿Un club en League Two?
The Nazca ceramics of the Inca Empire were at the cornerstone of Perú’s ancient civilisation. Port Vale and their fans know only too well what an important role pottery can play to a team’s fortunes and will surely be backing Perú’s valiant conquest in Argentina.
Get a few tumblers of leche de tigre inside yourself and throw a bit of ají de gallina down there while you’re at it. Let the sounds of the quena, tinya, charango and cajón ring out as you come crashing down the side of Machu Picchu.
The performances of Reimond Manco at the 2007 South American under-17 Championship were hailed in Perú as the arrival of a new saviour. A move to PSV Eindhoven followed but the player was soon bounced back to Peru after failing to impress in Holland. Then the wheels really started to come off for the youngster as he got banned from the national team after breaking a curfew in Panama City. Manco is currently a free agent after being released by Mexican outfit Atlante F.C. Manco’s contract was ripped up following the player faking his own kidnapping in an attempt to dodge a training session. At just 20-years-old Manco is talking about turning his back on the game for good.
Goalkeepers: Salomón Libman (Alianza Lima, PER), Leao Butrón (San Martín, PER), Raúl Fernández (Universitario, PER).
Defenders: Renzo Revoredo (Universitario, PER), Aldo Corzo (San Martín, PER), Christian Ramos (Alianza Lima, PER), Walter Vílchez (Sporting Cristal, PER), Yoshimar Yotun (Sporting Cristal, PER), Santiago Acasiete (Almería, ESP), Giancarlo Carmona (San Lorenzo, ARG), Alberto Rodríguez (Sporting Lisboa, POR).
Midfielders: Josepmir Ballón (River Plate, ARG), Adan Balbín (San Martín, PER), Rinaldo Cruzado (Juan Aurich, PER), Michael Guevara (Sport Boys, PER), Carlos Lobatón (Sporting Cristal, PER), William Chiroque (Juan Aurich, PER), Antonio Gonzales (Universitario, PER), Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina, ITA).
Forwards: André Carrillo (Sporting Clube, POR), Luis Advíncula (Sporting Cristal, PER), Raúl Ruidíaz (Universitario, PER), Paolo Guerrero (Hamburg, GER).
v Uruguay 04/07/2011 19:15 San Juan
v Mexico 08/07/2011 21:45 Mendoza
v Chile 12/07/2011 19:15 Mendoza
FIFA ranking: 49
Odds to win: 150/1
Copa America record: P132 W45 D31 L56 F193 A219
Copa America best: Two-time champions
More teams will follow in this daily series. Plus, for more on Copa America 2011, listen to The South American Football Show.