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“Paolo is one of the 9 most important in South America.  And if a better young man doesn’t come, he must continue playing.”

“Paolo is one of the 9 most important in South America. And if a better young man doesn’t come, he must continue playing.”

“Paolo is one of the 9 most important in South America.  And if a better young man doesn’t come, he must continue playing.”

—How much did Chile change with the arrival of Ricardo Gareca?

I had the opportunity to be directed by Gareca in 2009, in Vélez, Argentina. I know him, I know his ability as a coach and what he is like as a staff. I think the biggest change that has been noticed is the decision to leave some historical players out of the Copa América.

—One of them is Arturo Vidal, who did not take it well…

Yes, Arturo has not been considered this time for the Cup, nor has Gary Medel. Both were permanent fixtures a while ago.

—How did the fan make this decision because of what they both represent?

With respect. People love them very much, they consider that they still have the capacity to be in the national team, but they also understand that Gareca looks for players who suit his style of play, which is why he did not consider them this time.

—Regarding generational change, Jorge Fossati, coach of Peru, said that as long as the boys are not better, he will not remove the experienced ones. What do you think?

I always said it. As long as a young player does not come and prove to be better, one will continue playing and enjoying what it means to be in the national team. Retiring from a team does not depend on the one with the most experience, but on the one who comes back. If it is better, the replacement will be natural. In the case of Chile, this replacement will be very difficult due to the quality of the golden generation; they will be unattainable for many years or perhaps forever.

—How much does it mean in Chile that Gareca has been successful with the Peruvian team?

He directed Peru, which is our classic in South America, but there are no hard feelings or anything. We know his quality, how serious and professional he is when it comes to working. He was always the candidate to take over the position and the fact that he has arrived is very good for us.

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—How does Chile arrive at its Copa América debut against Peru?

Very good, I think. She has had friendlies that have awakened everyone’s optimism. Gareca’s main objective is to take Chile to the World Cup again. It is the essential thing.

—Is Chile a candidate to fight the group against Argentina?

It is not an easy group at all. Argentina is the world champion, it has a large number of good players who know how to play together, it is a physical and solid team. There is also Canada, which has been like the revelation team because of the litter it has and because it plays very well, very fast football. And there is Peru, our classic. People have not expected to compete in the tournament, they are aware that it will serve to confirm the team needed to qualify for the World Cup.

—Does Chile arrive better than Peru at its debut? How do you see the Bicolor from afar?

I haven’t been able to see Peru in recent months. I know the teacher is there [Jorge] Fossati. He is a technician who has a lot of capacity, group management and experience. I think that can give a new look to the Peruvian team, which needs it like Chile.

—How do you see Paolo Guerrero from Chile?

He is one of the best players in South America in recent decades, one of the most important. He is a strong, technical and handsome guy, the kind that if you kick him he stops and comes back so you can hit him again. Scorer, intelligent. Without a doubt, he is one of the best strikers I have ever faced.

Peru's Paolo Guerrero (L) and Chile's Gary Medel (R) vie for the ball during their South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at the National Stadium in Lima on October 7, 2021. (Photo by Daniel APUY / POOL / AFP)

—Is it a disadvantage for Peru to take him despite being 40 years old?

If you need it and it is useful for the technician, why not? Gareca called Claudio Bravo again, who is 42 years old. He calls him up because he trusts that he can still perform and because he is a reference on and off the field. As long as Paolo is physically fit for as long as they need him, he will continue because he has the quality to compete in any instance.

—Days ago the news went viral that the National Professional Football Association of Chile was having financial problems. It’s true?

According to the journalists who work on our radio, who follow the day-to-day life of the team, they pointed out that it was an issue that was real, that there is an economic deficit. But that situation does not allow him to pay Professor Gareca, that is not the case.

—Last year, Alexis Sánchez criticized the ANFP. What was it like to reach the national team in your time?

The team continues training at the Juan Pinto Durán, a very small complex, which they always try to renovate but which does not provide all the conditions that a team needs because it is old. I think Alexis was referring to those shortcomings because, of course, at the level he is at, playing on elite teams, it was difficult for him to come across that.

Source: Elcomercio

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