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Gareca lauds Peru after clinching World Cup playoff spot

Peru is one game away from back-to-back World Cup finals appearances following Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Paraguay, and head coach Ricardo Gareca lauded his side, who seemed set to miss out six months ago.

La Blanquirroja clinched the fifth spot in World Cup qualifying in CONMEBOL with the victory over Paraguay.

Finishing ahead of Colombia and Chile will miss the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Peru’s win means they will play the fifth-ranked team from the Asian Football Confederation, either Australia or UAE, who will meet in a one-off playoff in Doha in June.

They will be playing the inter-confederation playoff as an on-off in Doha on June 13 or 14.

Gareca’s side seemed a long shot to claim fifth after back-to-back 1-0 losses to Bolivia and Argentina, which left them second last in the standings in October but rallied by claiming 13 points from a possible 18 in their final six qualifiers.

Gareca told reporters:

“We didn’t start the qualifiers well, but we rebounded well.

“It gave us the possibility to get to the playoff spot.

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Gareca lauds Peru after clinching World Cup playoff spot

“I have to congratulate the boys and thank the people for the support. It was incredible. When I renewed my contract, this is what I wanted.”

Gareca has been widely praised within Peru for his efforts, taking over as national team boss in March 2015.

And leading the side to its first World Cup in 36 years along with the 2019 Copa America final.

The sentiment has been different for Colombia head coach Reinaldo Rueda, who achieved a rare feat of guiding two sides in qualifying who both failed to reach the World Cup.

Rueda was managing Chile early in qualifying before leaving and joining Colombia in January.

Rueda told reporters after Colombia’s 1-0 win in Venezuela, which was not enough:

“I think that not achieving the goal is a shame for Colombian football.

“It is extreme frustration. It was added, but a great result was not given.

“I think it is obvious that my contract was subject to qualifying for the World Cup.

“So it is an evaluation that the board will have to do of our work.”

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Gareca lauds Peru after clinching World Cup playoff spot

Chile’s failure means they have missed the past two World Cups, meaning the international careers of several of their golden generations, including Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz, Claudio Bravo, Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel and Eduardo Vargas, may come to an end.

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