WORLD CUP: Peru returns to finals after 36-year absence
LIMA, Peru — The Peruvian players heading to Russia weren’t alive when the team last appeared at the World Cup.
The 36-year wait is over.
Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca has restored the elegant ball possession and short passing style that carried Peru to the quarterfinals of the 1970 edition.
While lacking stars, Peru will be hoping its ability to adapt to different conditions serves it well across Russia. The players have already shown through qualifying that they can handle everything from the altitude of the Andean mountains to the heat of the Amazon. They also got a major boost after top-scorer and team captain, Paolo Guerrero, was recently cleared to play in Russia when a Swiss court agreed to temporarily lift his doping suspension.
Here’s a closer look at the Peru team, which secured its place at the World Cup through the playoffs against New Zealand:
Gareca was responsible for denying Peru a place at the 1986 World Cup, scoring the goal that ended its qualification hopes while playing for Argentina.
He went on to gain two decades of coaching experience in the South American club game, including spells at Brazil’s Palmeiras, Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield, and Colombia’s America de Cali, and has led Peru since 2015.
Pedro Gallese, of Mexico’s Veracruz, will wear Peru’s No. 1 jersey after recovering from a right knee injury he sustained in February.
Peru will be relying on two players who rarely feature for their clubs: Central defender Alberto Rodriguez and left back Miguel Trauco.
At age 34, Rodriguez returned to training at Colombia’s Junior Barranquilla only in the middle of April after an injury to his right leg. Trauco played only three matches this year for Flamengo in Brazil.
Renato Tapia of Feyenoord was integral during qualifying along with Yoshimar Yotun of Orlando City. Attacking midfielder Christian Cueva of Sao Paulo is known for his dribbling skills, precise passes and creativity.
Guerrero scored twice in a 3-0 win over Saudi Arabia in a World Cup warmup Sunday. It marked his triumphant comeback three days after he was cleared to play in Russia. He tested positive for metabolites of cocaine at a World Cup qualifying game last October and might still have to complete a 14-month ban imposed by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. But the court has said that the ban should not apply until Guerrero’s appeal is heard in full after the World Cup. His urgent request to the court was backed by Peru’s government and a wave of emotional support from home fans who believe that the 34-year-old is key to Peru’s success in the tournament.
Lokomotiv’s Jefferson Farfan and Raul Ruidiaz, from Mexico’s Monarcas, are the other goalscorers.
Based in Moscow, Peru opens on June 16 against Denmark, plays France on June 21, and Australia on June 26.
Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Veracruz), Carlos Caceda (Municipal), Jose Carvallo (UTC)
Defenders: Luis Advincula (Lobos), Aldo Corzo (Universitario), Miguel Trauco (Flamengo), Christian Ramos (Veracruz), Alberto Rodriguez (Junior), Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima), Nilson Loyola (Melgar FBC), Anderson Santamaria (Puebla)
Midfielders: Edison Flores (Aalborg), Paolo Hurtado (Vitoria Guimaraes), Renato Tapia (Feyenoord), Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City), Pedro Aquino (Lobos), Christian Cueva (Sao Paulo), Wilder Cartagena (Veracruz)
Forwards: Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo), Andre Carrillo (Watford), Raul Ruidiaz (Morelia), Jefferson Farfan (Lokomotiv Moscu), Andy Polo (Portland)
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