Peru has come in third place on the last two editions of Copa America. Quietly, without making any noise, they have assembled a team that is making strides in preparation for the qualifiers and eventually finding a spot for Russia 2018. But do they really have what it takes? Or was it that the last two editions of Copa America have been kind to them in the group lottery?
My personal opinion is that the Peruvian Federation has, over the last few years, taken their soccer with a bit more seriousness. When they handed the reigns of the team to former Velez Sarsfield Head, Argentine Ricardo Gareca, they also established a long term project, away from the sensationalist, short sighted, result driven policy they had had over the last 30 years. Let’s remember that Peru’s last appearance in the World Cup was in Spain, in 1982. And it wasn’t a very memorable display.
So there is an entire generation of Peruvians that have not seen their team play in FIFA’s main stage. And they have put in place a plan to revert that pattern and are trying to make history. Peru won their last Copa America in 1975, and with very sporadic lukewarm appearances since then, it wasn’t until their third place result in 2011 that people glanced at them. And it was a third place result in 2015 that made people notice.
That is the only reason we are actually writing about Peru today… Because had it not been for their last two bronze medals, they’d still be a very unnoticeable team, much like Bolivia or Venezuela.