Farfan fitness in doubt for Peru

Peru are sweating on the fitness of key forward Jefferson Farfan ahead of the start of the Copa America in Argentina next Friday. The 26-year-old, who helped his German club side Schalke 04 to the semi-finals of last season's UEFA Champions League, sustained a thigh injury in training on yesterday. He is due to have a scan to assess the extent of the problem.

"It was 20 minutes into practice. Farfan made a nice move... and then he was injured," Peru's Uruguayan coach Sergio Markarian told reporters. "The way he fell is worrying."

Striker Claudio Pizarro, who had been poised to return to action in Peru's colours after a three-year international exile, has already been ruled out of the tournament with knee ligament damage. Fiorentina midfielder Juan Manuel Vargas is another injury concern, but Markarian is optimistic he will recover in time.

This has never happened to me... never in my life.
Peru coach Sergo Markarian on the prospect of missing three of his best players

"This has never happened to me... never in my life," Markarian said of having three players injured at the same time. "It's unusual, inexplicable (but) it's not bad luck."

Despite the doubts over his key players, the 66-year-old Markarian - a former coach of Paraguay - vowed that Peru would not be prevented from enjoying a successful tournament. "Peru will be OK, don't worry," he said. "I'll do my best to make sure Peru have a good performance."

Peru have been drawn in Group C alongside Chile, CONCACAF Gold Cup finalists Mexico and Uruguay, who reached the semi-finals at last summer's FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa. The Peruvians have not reached the FIFA World Cup since the 1982 tournament in Spain and finished bottom of the CONMEBOL standings in qualifying for last year's event.