Small fry no longer, Venezuela dream on
London: Uruguay may be the favourites as the last big-name side left standing at a Copa America full of shocks - but there is little doubt which team is the people`s favourite among the final four.
Venezuela meet Paraguay in Wednesday`s second semi-final after Uruguay prepared to duel with Peru on Tuesday.
The Venezuelans, hailing from the Caribbean end of Latin America, should be fish out of water at an event taking place deep in Argentina`s chilly winter.
Yet they have warmed the hearts of tens of thousands of fans.
The exception is the city of Mendoza, which stands to lose an estimated four million dollars in tourist receipts after 30,000 Chileans flooded over the border for the quarter-final only to see a different shade of red in the Vinotinto, who beat them 2-1.
"Now we have come so far we have to go one step further and reach the final," said defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, whose goal against the Chileans helped to bring a famous victory and a first-ever semi, a step further than his side had managed on home soil four years ago.
"It`s been a great experience and we are improving all the time," he told reporters.
Venezuela coach Cesar Farias will have to rejig things a little against a Paraguayan side against whom they thrillingly came back from 3-1 down to draw in the group with creative midfielder Tomas Rincon suspended following his red card in the quarters.
But Farias is undaunted by that, insisting: "We have great faith. We have the chance to play the final if we can get through this one and we don`t feel inferior to anyone.”
"We are unbeaten and have scored the most goals."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, keenly following his compatriot`s progress, is happy to pay Cesar his due.
"Cesar knows what he is doing. Applause for Cesar Farias and the Vinotinto," enthused Chavez on his Twitter feed as he prepares to undergo chemotherapy in Cuba, clearly seeing the team`s performances as a something of a tonic.
Even after the opening group draw with Brazil, Farias had indicated the team would target a run to the final.
Such has been Farias` influence that Spanish daily El Mundo on Monday dubbed the 38-year-old "The Venezuelan Mourinho."
Farias fell out with keeper Renny Vega after dropping the latter some time ago but the pair are now united in their desire to conjure the sporting earthquake that a Venezuelan Copa win would comprise.
"He`s key for us - he works very well," says Vega.
Much could depend on how the underdogs compensate for the loss of the impressive Rincon with Luis Seijas and Giacomo Di Giorgi the mooted alternatives.
Paraguay, whose second and last title to date came in 1979, will see an omen in their favour in that both times they won international football`s oldest event they put out Brazil, as they did here in the quarters.
Coach Gerardo Martino knows his side should be favoured to reach Sunday`s trophy match in Buenos Aires but has wasted no time in eulogising Wednesday`s rivals.
"Venezuela will be a very tough opponent. They have come on so much in recent years," Martino told a news conference in Buenos Aires.
"But we must not seek to improve ourselves by thinking about Venezuela but improve within ourselves if we are to achieve our dream of reaching Sunday`s final.”
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- Vadodara: Policemen seen dancing with bar girls
- Coal scam: Naveen Jindal, Madhu Koda and others get bail
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- One year of Modi govt: Arun Jaitley addresses press conference
- Zee Media Exclusive: Kangana, Madhavan talk about their film 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- ISIS executes Syrian fighter using anti-tank rocket launcher
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- Zee Media Exclusive interview with Congress leader Kamal Nath
- CM Kejriwal shortlists 39 'unwanted' IAS officers in Delhi
- Columbia student takes rape-protest mattress to graduation
- Mumbai: One injured in shootout at Film City
- Delhi: Car catches fire after crash, one dead
- DNA: Modi-led NDA govt's hits and misses in one year
- Jayalalithaa makes public appearance, meets Governor: As it happened
- Mumbai firm booked for denying Muslim MBA graduate job on religious grounds, probe ordered
- Geelani's passport application incomplete, cannot be processed: MEA
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2: CSK vs RCB - As it happened...
- India to soon have its own space shuttle!
- Kejriwal slams notification on LG's powers, says Modi running Delhi govt through back door
- WBBSE 10th Madhyamik Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015 to be announced on May 22
- Tanu Weds Manu Returns movie review: Brilliant execution, superb performance!
- Don't know what will happen to my career, says Ranbir Kapoor
- Manohar Parrikar meets troops at Siachen base camp
- Wbbse.org 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th, WB MP Results 2015 to be announced today shortly
- Businessman shot next to Amitabh Bachchan's shooting location in Mumbai Film City
- West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha (MP) Results 2015 to be announced today at 10 AM
- After land bill, net neutrality, Rahul Gandhi to fight for ex-servicemen now
- RBSE 12th Results 2015 (rajeduboard.nic.in & rajresults.nic.in): Rajasthan Board BSER Ajmer Senior Secondary Class 12th XII Intermediate Science & Commerce Exam Results 2015 to be declared today on May 22