Buenos Aires: The South American qualifiers for Russia 2018 left Chile not only out of the World Cup, but also with a bitter feeling, after their own successful complaint before sports authorities dramatically backfired.
Chile complained to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the improper use by Bolivia of a Paraguay-born defender, Nelson Cabrera, in the qualifier the two teams had drawn 1-1 on September 6.
FIFA agreed that Cabrera was ineligible to play for Bolivia and granted Chile the additional two points, and CAS upheld FIFA’s decision. However, Bolivia had also fielded Cabrera in their 2-0 win over Peru five days earlier. CAS therefore granted Peru three extra points.
By the end of the qualifiers late Tuesday, Peru and Chile were tied on 26 points. However, Peru had a better goal difference and will get to play New Zealand next month for a spot in Russia 2018, while Chile will be missing the World Cup altogether. Without the complaint that Chile initiated, they would have ended on 24 points, 1 point ahead of Peru, and therefore in fifth place in the standings and in the play-offs. Peru would have been eliminated.
Meanwhile, Juan Antonio Pizzi has confirmed he will stand down as Chile coach, just hours after his team were beaten 3-0 by Brazil to miss out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup Finals, local news reports said.
Pizzi’s contract was due to expire at the conclusion of the qualifiers and after Chile finished sixth in the 10-team group, outside the places for Russia, he said there was no reason to discuss a new deal. “I am ruling myself out of continuing,” Pizzi said in comments reported by Chilean media and confirmed by veteran midfielder Gary Medel.
Pizzi, 49, led Chile to victory at the 2016 Centenary Copa America but his aging team have struggled in the closing stages of the qualifiers, winning just two of their last six games. Several of the team’s biggest names — including Claudio Bravo, Arturo Vidal and Medel — are already in their 30s and Tuesday’s defeat in Sao Paulo appears to have signaled the end of the most successful team in the country’s history.
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