Since the adoption of the current FIFA World Cup™ qualification format in the CONMEBOL Zone, Bolivia have never fared better than the seventh place they managed in the Korea/Japan 2002 preliminaries, when they saw their hopes of reaching the finals evaporate in the final few games. The only time they have ever negotiated a qualifying campaign successfully came when they took second place behind Brazil on the road to USA 1994.
FIFA World Cup™ finals history
It may surprise some to know that Bolivia contested two of the first four FIFA World Cup™ finals: Uruguay 1930 and Brazil 1950. However, it was not until their third and final appearance to date, at USA 1994, that they earned their first point, which came in a goalless draw with Korea Republic in their second group game. Their maiden world finals goal arrived in their next match, a 3-1 loss to Spain that sealed their exit from the competition.
The current crop
In November 2010, in the wake of a fourth successive failure to reach the FIFA World Cup finals, Gustavo Quinteros was appointed national team coach in place of Erwin Platini Sanchez, a former squad-mate of his at USA 1994. The 46-year-old ex-defender, who was born in Argentina and is now a naturalised Bolivian, has since overseen a gradual process of renewal, giving more exposure to youngsters such as Jhasmany Campos, Ricardo Pedriel, Alcides Pena and Rudy Cardozo. However, the team didn't perform as they would have liked at the Copa America 2011, returning home after the first round without a win and Xavier Azkargorta took the reins in July 2012.
The key players
The tip of a spine formed by goalkeeper Carlos Arias, defender Ronald Raldes with striker Marcelo Moreno Martins carrying Bolivia’s goal threat. Currently plying his trade at Gremio of Porto Alegre, Martins showed his credentials in the South Africa 2010 qualifying campaign, hitting seven goals to finish the regional preliminaries as the second-highest scorer.
Coach: Xavier Azkargorta
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Uruguay 1930, Brazil 1950, USA 1994 (Group stages)
Former stars: Erwin Sanchez, Juan Manuel Pena, Marco Etcheverry