Copa America preview: Zenit St Petersburg’s Salomon Rondon will try to bring consistency to Venezuela

Venezuela are the only South American team never to have played at the World Cup and coach Noel Sanvicente’s sights are already fixed on Russia in 2018 rather than Chile this month in Group C.
Hamburg's Venezualan midfielder Tomas Rincon, right, will try to help his national side build on their semi-final run in last year's Copa America. AFP PHOTO / CARMEN JASPERSEN
Hamburg's Venezualan midfielder Tomas Rincon, right, will try to help his national side build on their semi-final run in last year's Copa America. AFP PHOTO / CARMEN JASPERSEN

Venezuela are the only South American team never to have played at the World Cup and coach Noel Sanvicente’s sights are already fixed on Russia in 2018 rather than Chile this month.

“I’m not here to win a Copa America, I’m here to get us qualified” for the next World Cup. “If not, it’s a failure,” Sanvicente said in a recent interview.

“I think it’s our turn to qualify for a World Cup,” he added, reflecting on the near misses of the last two qualifying campaigns. “We’ve been so close.”

Until recently, Venezuela, where football has been traditionally less popular than baseball, were seen as easy meat by the other South American teams and were often on the wrong end of some embarrassingly lopsided scorelines.

Photo gallery: 12 Copa America players to watch

They have made huge strides in the last 10 years, however, and enjoyed their best performance at the last Copa America where they reached the semi-finals, although signs of stagnation have now begun to set in.

The defence is ageing, there does not appear to be any sign of a replacement for 35-year-old playmaker Juan Arango and forward Salomon Rondon has fallen out of favour at Zenit St Petersburg.

Venezuela can play some slick football but Sanvicente realises they need to be more consistent.

“We can’t be satisfied with producing moments of good football. We have to sustain this with more movement and the kind of intensity I’m looking for,” he said.

Number of appearances 15 (first in 1967)

Best performance Fourth place: 2011

Draw Group C with Brazil, Peru and Colombia

Fifa ranking 72

Coach: Noel Sanvicente

The 50-year-old made his name when he spent eight years as coach of Caracas FC, an incredibly long length of time in the volatile world of South American coaching.

He won five Venezuelan league titles during that time, then went on to win two more with less fashionable Zamora FC.

He also won five Venezuela titles and played 10 times for his country during his playing career which was cut short by a knee injury.

Sanvicente was the obvious choice to take over when Cesar Farias quit as coach last year and, although he began badly with four successive defeats in friendlies, Venezuela’s form has picked up this year.

Key player: Tomas Rincon

The key player in midfield where he keeps play ticking over with his intelligent passing, Rincon had an outstanding Copa America four years ago when Venezuela reached the semi-finals.

A strong tackler, he spent five seasons with Hamburg SV before moving to Genoa this season, giving him ample top flight experience in Europe.

Raised at UA Maracaibo, he also played for Zamora and Deportivo Tachira in his homeland.

Squad

Goalkeepers Alain Baroja (Caracas FC), Dani Hernandez (Tenerife), Wuilker Farinez (Caracas FC)

Defenders Fernando Amorebieta (Middlesbrough), Roberto Rosales (Malaga), Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Nantes), Gabriel Cichero (Mineros), Alexander Gonzalez (Aarau), Andres Tunez (Buriram United), Wilker Angel (Tachira), Grenddy Perozo (Ajaccio).

Midfielders Juan Arango (Xolos), Franklin Lucena (La Guaira), Tomas Rincon (Genoa), Luis Manuel Seijas (Santa Fe), Ronald Vargas (Balkesirspor), Cesar Gonzalez (Tachira), Rafael Acosta (Mineros), Alejandro Guerra (Atletico Nacional)

Forwards Jose Salomon Rondon (Zenit St Petersburg), Jhon Murillo (Zamora), Josef Martinez (Torino), Edder Farias (Caracas FC), Christian Santos (NEC), Nicolas Fedor, (Rayo Vallecano), Gelmín Rivas (Tachira).

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Published: June 10, 2015 04:00 AM

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