Concepcion (Chile), July 3 (IANS) Peru coach Ricardo Gareca hopes his side’s standout performance in the Copa America can inspire them to a successful World Cup qualifying campaign.
Peru missed out in a place on the final after losing to hosts Chile on Monday, but their passage to the last four more than exceeded expectations and they not meet Paraguay in a play-off for third place on Friday.
“Every match is special with this shirt because you are representing a country,” Gareca said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“We have the opportunity of finishing an even better position, third place. We have players of great quality in Peru. It’s key that they are motivated and they have shown that that they are.”
And he added: “It’s very important. For us and for Paraguay it was very important to have a strong Copa América because both are new processes, for Ramón Díaz and for me, and the quicker you get to know the players and achieve your objectives, the better.
“For both teams it is important to have a good Copa and prepare in the best way for the World Cup qualifiers.”
The Conmebol campaign to reach the 2018 World Cup kicks off in October and Peru will look to qualify for the first time since 1982.
“The identity is important,” Gareca said.
“It’s not for me to say whether I am restoring the identity to Peruvian football, because it has a rich history, but I believe in the Peruvian players and if the public think that this team resembles teams from the past, then that’s great.
“We are just trying to make the team stronger all the time.”
Peru suffered only two defeats at the tournament to Brazil and Chile – both by a single goal – and scored in all but one of their matches – a goalless draw with Colombia.