La Vinotinto has suffered the Copa América. Within hours of the tournament, the PCR tests detected up to 13 infections between soccer players and the coaching staff. At least three of their best footballers tested positive: captain Tomás Rincón, striker Josef Martínez and Roberto Rosales from Leganés. The Venezuelan team had already suffered the loss of its best striker, Salomón Rondón, due to injury, and had hopes of recovering the most prolific player on its list: Yeferson Soteldo. The national team will face their last match of the group stage with aspirations to qualify for the quarterfinals: they must beat Peru and hope that Ecuador does not surprise Brazil this Sunday.
The Venezuelan team had to use 15 players from the local League to complete the team. Conmebol changed the regulations of the competition to allow any team to summon new players in the event of any emergency due to the covid-19 pandemic or injury. Venezuela lost by a landslide (3-0) against Brazil in its debut. When everything pointed to another fiasco for the Venezuelan national team, goalkeeper Wuilker Faríñez entered the scene. The Lens goalkeeper avoided Colombia’s strong offense with eight key saves that served to tie it 0-0. The point was pure oxygen for the Vinotinto.
Venezuela put its heart at stake against Ecuador, the most accessible rival. The team led by strategist José Peseiro rescued the tie 2-2 in the last minute thanks to Ronald Hernández who maintained the team’s expectations. “I have no words to say the admiration I have for these boys, the way they played for the first time in the professional team, they are here showing a capacity for sacrifice, to fight, to defend the Vinotinto that excites me”, Peseiro commented on the footballers who were called at the last minute to reinforce the team. Eleven of the 15 have already returned to their clubs, according to the Venezuelan federation.
In the training sessions prior to this Sunday’s game against Peru at the Mané Garrincha stadium, Josef Martínez, the MLS Atlanta United goal machine, and full-back Roberto Rosales already appear. Peseiro will have more arsenal to face Peru, Yeferson Soteldo, one of the greatest joys of Venezuelan football. The skillful footballer wore the Santos de Pelé jersey 10 and led the club to play the final of the last Copa Libertadores. Palmeiras, however, took the champion medal from him. He was also part of the sub 20 squad that finished runner-up in the world when they fell in the final against England. Soteldo, a classic midfielder and also a fast midfielder, was signed by Toronto of the MLS. The 23-year-old footballer just came out of the infirmary after overcoming a muscle injury and this Wednesday Vinotinto announced the return of the player.
Venezuela needs to beat Peru to qualify for the quarterfinals. Also that Ecuador draws or loses against Brazil. In the event that the Vinotinto tied, it will require that the Canarinha triumph against the Ecuadorians. The draw of both games does not suit the Venezuelans because, on goal difference, they are ranked worse than Ecuador. In this Copa América, four of the five teams in the group will qualify and it is in this possibility that Vinotinto wants to sneak in. Peru, however, wants to climb to the second position in the rankings to overtake Colombia and avoid facing Paraguay or Uruguay. “We need to score one more goal than the opponent, just that, we propose a team to compete, not to embarrass but to dignify the America’s Cup,” coach Peseiro launched. Venezuela is going through its best moment.
Subscribe here to the newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region.