Chile made their FIFA U-20 World Cup debut as hosts of the 1987 edition, going on to finish fourth after losing out to the former West Germany in the semis and East Germany in the play-off for third place. On their next two outings, at Qatar 1995 and Argentina 2001, La Roja were unable to negotiate the group phase, though they overcame that barrier at Netherlands 2005 by reaching the Round of 16. Their best performance to date came at Canada 2007, when a squad featuring Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel made it all the way to third spot. That was the Chileans’ last appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup prior to Turkey 2013, which will be their sixth trip to the finals.
Chile enjoyed a perfect start to the Sudamericano in Argentina, thanks to victories over all four of their Group A rivals: La Albiceleste, Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay. Their form dipped considerably come the six-team final phase, however, and they only secured their passage to Turkey 2013 thanks to a 1-1 draw in their last game against Peru, who were also in the running for the final available FIFA U-20 World Cup berth. Boasting young talents such as Nicolas Castillo and Bryan Rabello, La Roja were the only team to beat eventual champions Colombia, and did so once in each phase.
Coach Mario Salas gave a positive verdict on Chile’s Sudamericano display, though he remains aware his team have much work to do ahead of Turkey 2013. “We proved we’re a tough team and we achieved our goal, but we feel a little let down because we aimed to finish higher than fourth,” said Salas. “Between now and the World Cup we have to work on avoiding red cards, which were a black mark on our campaign. The dismissals prevented us from playing our usual game and it’s something we need to fix.”