Chile qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup thanks to a 4-2 victory over Colombia – and don’t be surprised to see similar score lines in South Africa come June. This team loves to attack and is full of pacey, talented players. They don’t have the defensive stability to go the distance, but they’ll be a treat for neutrals to watch, and could still surprise a few.
Nicknamed El Loco (The Madman) for his unique dedication to the game, the 54-year-old has previous FIFA World Cup experience with Argentina in 2002. Sadly for Bielsa, Argentina failed to qualify from the group stages – and he lost his job. However, thanks to Chile fans’ low expectations, even seeing this team through the qualifying stages is enough to redeem his reputation.
Player to watch
This 28-year-old, currently on the books at Mexican club Monterrey, topped the South American qualifying round with 10 goals – not easy with Brazil and co around. He’ll be keen to show off his talents and earn himself a lucrative contract in Europe. Suazo is not the only one to watch, though; Chile has a number of players who could catapult themselves to stardom with positive performances in SA.
We’re on the ball
World Cup appearances: 7
Previous best: Third place, 1962
Odds of winning: 66/1
Strange but true: In a match against Brazil, Chili refused to continue play (at 1-0 down) when their goalkeeper, Rojas, claimed he had been hit by a firework thrown from the crowd. When footage proved the keeper had faked it, FIFA awarded Brazil a 2-0 win, banned Chile from the next World Cup and Rojas was banned for life.
Fixtures: Honduras, June 16, 3.30pm, Nelspruit Switzerland, June 21, 6pm, Port Elizabeth Spain, Jun 25, 10.30pm, Pretoria