South American World Cup Qualifiers
Saturday, Sept 4
Lima: Peru v Argentina
Sunday, Sept 5
Montevideo: Uruguay v Ecuador
Sao Paulo: Brazil v Bolivia
Asuncion: Paraguay v Venezuela
Santiago: Chile v Colombia
Peru captain Nolberto Solano has challenged his side not to fear Argentina, as the two sides prepare to meet in Lima on Saturday.
“They’re a team who always want to win. Their players are never satisfied,” Said the Aston Villa midfielder.
“But we have our strong points and with a lot of optimism and determination, we can do it” he added.
The Argentineans, fresh from their Olympic triumph in Athens, will be hoping to put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack, in the bid to qualify for Germany ’06.
Currently second with 12 points in the group, Argentina include seven gold medallists in their squad.
Brazil, who currently lead the South American group from Argentina by a single point, will be without five first choice squad members for the match against Bolivia.
Milan players Cafu, Kaka, Dida, and Bayern Munich’s Lucio and Ze Roberto have all being excluded from the squad, for not appearing in the August 18, 6-0 victory at Port-au-Prince.
The World Champions are also without central defender Juan, who joins Porto midfielder Diego, defender Gustavo Nery and striker Luis Fabiano on the inured list.
On the plus side, Barcelona’s Ronaldinho has been declared fit, after recovering from an injury picked up in the match against Espanyol on August 22.
The Bolivians, currently lying a point adrift at the foot of the table, have opted for a very cautions approach, naming three goalkeepers, nine defenders and only two forwards in their 20 man squad for the clash.
Colombia goalkeeper Miguel Calero has dispelled rumours that they will play for a draw when they travel to third placed Chile on Sunday.
After a poor start to their campaign, Calero believes that Columbia must go for victory in the match.
“This match is fundamental for us,” he told reporters.
“We’ve come to win because that’s the only thing which is of any use to us.
“If a draw was any good, perhaps we’d think about it and settle for it, but it isn’t and we have to win.” he proclaimed.
In contrast, Chile, who have started the group very positively, will be buoyed by the news that injury-plagued striker Marcelo Salas may be back in the side for only his second international in three years.
Elsewhere, Paraguay, currently fourth in the group, will include ten menbers of the Olympic squad who achieved a creditable silver medal, for the match against Venezuela.
Goalkeeper Diego Barreto, defenders Emilio Martinez and Julio Manzur, midfielders Edgar Barreto and Aureliano Torres and striker Fredy Bareiro were among the players included in the 24-man squad for the game in Asuncion on September 5.
Despite their success in Athens, coach Anibal Ruiz has urged caution ahead of the match.
“Venezuela like to play on the attack, even away from home, so we have to take care at the back,” Ruiz said.
Venezuela, whose progress has stunted after their astonishing 3-0 win away to Uruguay in March, are missing injured striker Massimo Margiotta.
Captain Paolo Montero will be hoping he can galvanise his Uruguay side for the game against Ecuador, in an attempt to revive their disastrous start to the group.
Despite losing their last 3 qualifiers, the Uruguayans enjoyed a turn of fortunes at the Copa America, and will be hoping they can carry this form into their world cup campaign.
Juventus’s Montero, who reconsidered his decision to quit following two years out of the international game, is expecting to recover from a knee injury for the game.
Uruguay will however be without Strikers Diego Forlan, who is not match fit, and Javier Chevanton, who has pulled out through injury.
Ecuador will be playing their first game under new coach Luis Fernandez Suarez, following the departure of Columbian Hernan Dario Gomez, who quit after the team suffered an alarming slump in form, losing their last 3 qualifiers.