One big step at a time….
Many say we have had a terrible 2009. We only got 1 out of 12 points in the last four games and our initial momentum came to a complete halt. Yet, how bad is the situation really? Can we consider this year’s performance a failure? I hardly think so.
The rules are simple, win all your home games and bite some points on the road. Any team that can follow those rules should make it to the World Cup. This year, we played 9 of those 12 points away from home in Uruguay, Ecuador, and Brazil. Considering those venues and rivals, losing all three games was completely possible! Even so, we brought a golden point from Ecuador. The only game that was truly an upset was our home defeat to Chile.
We have earned plenty of credit in the earlier stages of the qualifiers. We brought back victories from Chile and Colombia, as well as draws from Peru and Argentina. Up to the game against Chile, we had won all our home games. It is this credit which has kept us in the top four of the standings in this bumpy phase this year. It won’t be enough to carry us to the World Cup though, we have take another big step and win again!
Looking ahead, we have one away and three home games left. We’ll see Bolivia and Argentina in the Defensores del Chaco next week. Everything ends in October when we visit Venezuela first, then receive Colombia at home.
How we do against Bolivia on Saturday will dictate our future performances. Nelson Haedo has stressed the importance of the game against Bolivia. A victory on Bolivia would certainly invigorate us for Argentina, where we could clinch our qualification.
Even though Bolivia isn’t high in the standings, they are a tough team. They’ve demonstrated this with their victory on Argentina and their draw when they visited Brazil. Still, we have what it takes to take another big step and keep the three points at home.
Argentina plays Brazil in Rosario, and may very well arrive to Asuncion with a defeat on their backs. I suspect such a crisis would further weaken them before entering the Defensores del Chaco. Regardless of the outcome in Rosario, we should still be able to win.
Two more big steps and we’ll have earned our qualification to South Africa!
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