Chile set sights on Copa after World Cup woe
Brasilia: Chile have set their sights on next year`s Copa America after their World Cup campaign came to an agonising end against hosts Brazil in the last 16.
La Roja have never won South America`s continental crown but can now look forward to hosting next year`s tournament with dreams of making history.
"We have the championship in Chile next year and hopefully we can win it. Perhaps we can take our revenge," midfielder Arturo Vidal said after Saturday`s penalty shoot-out loss to Brazil.
Despite the shattering nature of the loss at the Mineirao Stadium, Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.
Indeed, Sampaoli`s team were just inches away from pulling off an upset against the hosts in Belo Horizonte.
Had a Mauricio Pinilla shot right at the end of extra time that crashed off the bar been just a fraction lower, Chile could have been in the last eight.
"When the ball hit the post that was our moment to make history, to do a `Mineirazo`. It would been a historic moment for all the Chilean people," said Sampaoli, the Argentine who had hoped to inflict a defeat on Brazil on the scale of their devastating 1950 final loss to Uruguay, known as the `Maracanazo`.Chile`s past record against Brazil provided little cause for optimism ahead of Saturday`s last 16 clash.
They have now won just seven of 69 meetings with the Selecao, and have still never managed to beat Brazil away from home in 27 attempts.
But after being blown away at France `98, when they lost 4-1 in Paris to the then World Cup holders, and after Marcelo Bielsa`s exciting side went down 3-0 to Brazil in 2010, this time they did at least come agonisingly close.
"I can`t be satisfied at going out of the World Cup in this way," said Sampaoli, but he added: "Come tomorrow, the pain we feel will give value to a team that came and played this way against the hosts and one of the candidates to win the title."
It was not only that of course -- Chile`s World Cup campaign will also be remembered for the manner in which they sent the holders Spain packing with a 2-0 win at the Maracana during the group stage.
"We competed with the best teams, and now they will look at us differently, with a lot of respect," insisted Vidal, the 27-year-old Juventus midfielder who needed pain-killing injections to play with a knee injury during the tournament.
Sampaoli, who succeeded fellow Argentines Bielsa and Claudio Borghi as Chile coach, transformed the team`s fortunes at the end of the qualifiers.
Energetic and agitated on the touchline, Sampaoli, 54, has his teams playing attractive attacking football combined with an aggressive pressing game.
"They have a philosophy of playing good football, lots of pace and excellent players," said Brazil defender David Luiz admiringly.
Chile are a young side. Goalkeeper and captain Claudio Bravo, who is now just one game away from equalling Leonel Sanchez`s all-time record of 84 caps, was the oldest player in the starting line-up against Brazil at the age of 31.
Of the outfield players at the Mineirao, defender Francisco Silva was the oldest at 28.