by G.D. Morrill
As I’ve stated, my wife, Nina, is from Peru, so I’m announcing my bias. However, that said, it was a really good (can that be?) zero, zero game. Most Americans have a burning hatred for nil, nil games. Soccer is the main culprit for that. But, if you enjoy soccer and end to end excitement, hard running, physical futbol, this game was really good.
Peru, was the underdog and it seemed at the start that Colombia would dominate and kill Peru. For the first twenty minutes, Peru had to endure the constant fire power of the third ranked team in the world. Shot after shot, but Peru’s defense was up to the task. For the rest of the game, even though Colombia continued their aggressiveness, Peru gave as good as they got.
These are a new, young group for Peru, Coach Garreca, an Argentinian, had chosen to go with a group of Peruvian league players over, international stars Clarudio Pizarro, Jefferson Farfan (La Focita). and Juan Miguel Vargas (el Loco Vargas), who have been criticized for drunken parties the night before important international games, a huge scandal for years in Peru. The Peruvian team had always underachieved with these supposed “stars” and the country was sick and tired of such famous and high priced players always under performing for Peru. Coach Garreca put his reputation and his job on the line going with younger, unknown players, and appears to have raised the level of play with his decisions.
At the end of the game, the score was tied at zero, zero. Which meant penalty kicks to decide the game. Penalty kicks depend on the goalie’s experience and how good they are. The other side, of course, is how good the kickers are. My wife, who was a forward who scored most of the goals for her teams, was never comfortable kicking penalty kicks. The best in the world, Messi, have missed penalty kicks. It’s as much mental as physical, maybe more. So, it’s always a dicey proposition.
The first two kickers for both teams were successful. Then Peru kicked and the Colombian goalie, Ospina, blocked the kick with a very lucky, but maybe not so much, kick with his educated right foot, left behind just in case the ball was there, and it was. Colombia’s next man made his kick, meaning that Peru’s next kicker, Cueva needed to make his goal or it was over. We will never know if the Peruvians would have gone as far in this tournament with their missing stars, but what is open for discussion is in the penalty kicks, such stars might have not missed their penalty kicks.
Cueva, one of Peru’s best players, when it was his turn at the penalty kick, kicked the ball over the goal. Game over. Cueva was inconsolable, but in a touching scene, Colombia’s best players, James Rodrigues, he of Real Madrid, and Premier player, Cuadrado, were seen consoling him.
Peru, had beaten the odds and gotten to the quarterfinals, but in the end, Colombia was up to the task, and Peru wasn’t. Win and semi-finals for Colombia, and a long plane ride home for Peru.
A great, classic, zero, zero game. Heartbreaking for Peru, but they, with a bunch of unproven players, had played the 3rd ranked team in the world, even Steven. They have nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact have proven themselves to be a formidable side in the upcoming World Cup eliminations for South America. Wifey is happy!