Chilean Team Begins Camp Ahead of World Cup Qualifiers
SANTIAGO – The return of Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal to Santiago for the Chilean team camp sparked scenes of chaos at the airport yesterday. The former Colo Colo player refused to speak to the media, being escorted by a guard of police officers and close friends.
Vidal was the only one of five suspended players to be cleared by the ANFP to return early to the national squad from a ten match ban. Vidal has been a key figure in the victory of Juventus in Italy’s Serie A. Despite the good form, the squad could not overcome Napoli in the final of the Coppa Italia, losing 2-0. A fellow member of the Chilean squad, Eduardo Vargas watched from the bench once again.
On the return of Vidal to the squad, Humberto “Chupete” Suazo said, “At this stage we need everybody”. Suazo equaled the goalscoring record this season in the Mexican league. He has been in strong form for Monterrey.
Matías Fernández was much more relaxed upon his arrival, saying to the media that he has arrived “with a vengeance”. He added, “We have two tough matches and I hope to come away with six points”. Fernández has been a regular starter at Sporting in Portugal this season. He scored the only goal in a friendly between Chile and Ghana.
Coach Claudio Borghi stated that “the greatest difficulty is accounting for everybody”. The players based in the domestic competition will not arrive in camp until Sunday, as the quarter finals of the Apertura competition will take place this week. “El Bichi” noted that there were no injuries among the foreign based players, however he mentioned the long seasons for Suazo, Fernández and Vidal had taken a toll on the players. The coach still has not decided on the exact role of Vidal, deciding to waiting until all the domestic players arrive in camp to make his selections.
To prepare for the high altitude of the Bolivian capital La Paz, the squad will train in Calama in order to adjust to the conditions. With six players selected for the squad, Universidad de Chile find themselves playing their quarter final match against Cobreloa in Calama on the weekend. The return leg has been rescheduled to June 11 to accommodate the absence of so many players.
Before heading north, the first training session for the foreign based players included time in a hypobaric chamber. Currently sitting in fifth place, winning the away clashes against Bolivia and Venezuela would give La Roja a great chance of qualifying for the Brazil World Cup. The four highest placed teams will go directly to Brazil, while the fifth team will go into a sudden death playoff to qualify.