Sitting at a lowly 97th in the FIFA World Rankings, Gustavo Quinteros’ Bolivia are comfortably the least fancied outfit taking part in the year’s Copa America. The nation’s claim to fame was back in 1963 when they won the tournament for the only time in their history. La Verde had to wait 30 years before their next triumph which came in the form of qualification for the 1994 World Cup in the USA and notably they defeated the mighty Brazil during the qualifiers for said tournament. However, the fact that such vast amounts of time separate their successes suggests that any sudden glory is unlikely.
Another recent high point was Bolivia’s freak 6-1 rout of Diego Maradona’s Argentina in 2009. Despite these sporadic achievements, it is no coincidence that these successes took place in their home city of La Paz where La Verde play at altitudes of around 3,500 feet – conditions which severely hinder any opponents. Unfortunately for Quinteros, he cannot boast this advantage at the South American Championships in Argentina, a tournament in which Bolivia have a dire record of late. In the last four competitions, La Verde has been eliminated in the first phase. The most recent Copa America in which they have enjoyed relative success was in 1999 when, typically, they hosted the tournament.
The squad for this year’s competition is relatively inexperienced, however, Bolivia have enjoyed a solid warm-up to the campaign in terms of performances. In a move that will only serve to benefit his team’s chances, Quinteros has maintained roughly the same line-up in the five friendly games La Verde has had so far this year. The Coach tends to deploy a 4-3-3 formation, and seems to have decided to build his defence around the imposing centre-half Ronald Raldes, who enjoyed a successful five years at Rosario Central of the Argentine Premier League. The midfield could consist of the likes of Walter Flores or Jhasmani Campos, along with the experienced Ronald Garcia and Joselito Vaca. The latter has flattered to deceive since bursting on to the scene at the age of 17. Now 28, the midfielder may have lost his chance to emulate past Bolivian legends such as Marco Etcheverry, but remains an important member of the national set-up. The focal point of the attack is likely to take the form of Marcelo Moreno Martins. One of the few Bolivian players currently plying their trade in Europe, the Shaktar Donetsk striker has spent the last couple of seasons being shifted around on loan. However, the striker chipped in with eight goals in 35 appearances in his debut season after becoming a top target for European clubs on the back of impressive club performances in Brazil.
At present, Bolivia have little to be optimistic about going into the 2011 Copa America. Etcheverry himself admitted that “our
Coach – Gustavo Quinteros: Despite being Argentine by birth, 46-year-old Gustavo Quinteros amassed 26 caps for Bolivia during his playing days. His managerial career began with San Lorenzo’s youth team, before enjoying the bulk of his success with a host of Bolivian clubs, namely Blooming where he delivered the league title and finals appearances.
One to watch – Marcelo Moreno Martins: Son of a Brazilian father, 24-year-old striker Marcelo Moreno turned out for the Samba boys at U20 level but opted to represent Bolivia at full International level. Made a £9m transfer to Shaktar Donetsk, where appearances and goals have been sporadic. However, remains the biggest goal scoring threat for La Verde.
Rivero – Raldes – Gutierrez – Alvarez
Flores – Garcia – Vaca
Pena – Moreno – Bolivia