Saturday, October 16, 2010

In the weak Group 1 Chile were considered the possible second place team at first. The controversy over their qualification was more political than football problem, but at the time politics overshadowed football. Pinochet’s regime was severely criticized around the world, vocal left-wing immigrants perhaps making the picture worse than it really was. But the political situation was turbulent and troublesome enogh to affect football. Not knowing much about the team aggravated the problem – to begin with, the Europeans did not see Chilean team since 1966. The old memories consisted of particularly rough playing, associated with the scandals during World Cup 1962. It should be noted that in 1962 televised football was practically non-existant and whatever happened on the pitch came to foreign lands via print and ocasional photo, with added bias. As time passed real events became mythologized, resulting in the strange belief that among South American villains Chile must be the worst offender. The recent political events only increased the antipathy, with some illogical twist too – the team was seen both sympathetically (poor players – forced to represent unpopular regime) and with hostility (don’t they have shame? Playing for Pinochet!). In truth, however, Chile was largely unknown team – at best, they were considered the 4th South American team, but miles behind the three giants Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. There was a lot of ignorance when it came to the real worth of Chilean players – some of them were (and remained) virtually unknown in Europe: Elias Figueroa is the biggest example. Lastly, there was specific peculiarity about this team, very difficult to comprehend – although a big number of the Chilean players were openly against the military rule and moving to play abroad for political reasons, none of the stars refused to play for ‘Pinochet’s team’. It was patriotic decision – playing for Chile, not for the military junta – yet, it was contriversial. Especially after Pinochet made his own point of meeting the team and expressing his hopes that they will bring glory to ‘new’ Chile. Yes, there was the hilarious moment when the General addresed Carlos Caszely with ‘I know you are left wing, but you are great right wing”. Caszely was not only the biggest Chilean star, but also the most vocal opponent of the military regime and one of the ‘exiles’, who went to play abroad in protest – or fear – or both. However, Caszely returned rather quickly to Chile and played at home Pinochet or no Pinochet. And not only he did so, thus begging questions as: was the regime trully horrible, since known opponents find the country fit for living and working? Or, were football players to be trusted? What is their true conviction? Money? Anyway, Chile had pretty much her best squad, but political tensions had their toll too. At least on paper Chile looked not so bad, having Figueroa, Caszely, and few other stars. Perhaps the team was considered more impressive in South America than in Europe – over there Colo Colo reached Copa Libertadores final in 1973 and fair number of this team were in the national team as well. No matter what, the team was veiled in certain mystery – for instance, in Bulgaria no picture of the team was published as a political protest.
Head coach: Luis Alamos
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Leopoldo Vallejos 16 July 1944 (aged 29) 13 Universidad Católica
2 DF Rolando García 15 December 1942 (aged 31) 14 Colo Colo
3 DF Alberto Quintano 26 April 1946 (aged 28) 33 Universidad de Chile
4 DF Antonio Arias 9 October 1944 (aged 29) 25 Unión Española
5 DF Elías Figueroa 25 October 1946 (aged 27) 19 Internacional
6 DF Juan Rodríguez 16 January 1944 (aged 30) 24 Atlético Español
7 FW Carlos Caszely 5 July 1950 (aged 23) 20 Levante
8 MF Francisco Valdés 19 March 1943 (aged 31) 44 Colo Colo
9 FW Sergio Ahumada 2 October 1948 (aged 25) 12 Colo Colo
10 MF Carlos Reinoso 7 March 1945 (aged 29) 25 América
11 FW Leonardo Véliz 3 September 1945 (aged 28) 18 Colo Colo
12 DF Juan Machuca 7 March 1951 (aged 23) 18 Unión Española
13 DF Rafael González 24 April 1950 (aged 24) 10 Colo Colo
14 MF Alfonso Lara 27 April 1946 (aged 28) 27 Colo Colo
15 DF Mario Galindo 10 August 1951 (aged 22) 6 Colo Colo
16 MF Guillermo Páez 18 April 1945 (aged 29) 11 Colo Colo
17 FW Guillermo Yávar 26 March 1943 (aged 31) 24 Universidad de Chile
18 MF Jorge Socías 6 October 1951 (aged 22) 2 Universidad de Chile
19 MF Rogelio Farías 13 August 1949 (aged 24) 10 Unión Española
20 FW Osvaldo Castro 14 April 1947 (aged 27) 24 América
21 GK Juan Olivares 20 February 1941 (aged 33) 32 Unión Española
22 GK Adolfo Nef 18 January 1946 (aged 28) 26 Colo Colo

The squad included 5 foreign based players, something still rare at the time – Castro, Reinoso, and Rodriguez played in Mexico; Caszely – in Spain; and Figueroa – in Brazil. In the big political hoopla it was difficult to evaluate the ‘foreigners’ – Caszely certainly went to Spain for political reasons, but Figueroa was playing abroad even before the ill-fated Socialist Salvador Allende became Chilean President.
La Roja: bottom, left to right: Carlos Caszely, Francisco Valdes, Sergio Ahumada, Carlos Reinoso, Julio Crisoto.
Top: Humberto – masseur, Juan Machuca, Antonio Arias, Elias Figueroa, Alberto Quintano, Juan Rodriguez, Juan Olivares, Ampuero – assistant coach.