- Flores plays in Denmark, Peru’s first opponents at Russia 2018
- He has the inside view on the Danes
- “If I score, I’m going to shout about it,” he tells FIFA.com
“We had an away game and we all sat down to watch the Final Draw,” he told FIFA.com. “It was funny. Everyone was laughing and joking.”
The only Peruvian playing in the Danish Superliga, he added: “It helped me relax. I’d never experienced a draw like that and I was nervous.”
As Flores recalled, some of that Danish laughter was tinged with delight: “They wanted Peru or Panama in their group, or both of them even, because they felt it would give them a better chance of getting through to the last 16. And it just so happens that we’ve got them in our opening game!”
That opening game will see the two sides meet in Saransk on 16 June. The man they call El Oreja (“Ears”) said the Danes are feeling confident: “They’ve got players at some big clubs in Europe, but it’s on the pitch where they’ll have to show that they’re better than us.”
So how did the 24-year-old left-footed midfielder react to the draw? “The first thing I said to them was that they weren’t going to have an easy time against us,” he replied with a smile. “Then I said that I always want more and that I was going to try to beat them.”
Flores, who moved to Aalborg in August 2016, explained that the Danes have started to see Peru in a different light over the last six months: “They’re keeping tabs on us now, but what happened before was only to be expected. We’re a team with young players who’ve just played in their first qualifying competition and have only just started making themselves known to the world.”
Whatever the case may be, the midfielder is not lacking in motivation: “I want to do my very best for Peru and if I score, then I’m going to shout about it. They’ve already told me, though, that if we beat them, I can forget about going back to Denmark,” he added with a laugh.
No sooner had the Final Draw finished than Flores received a call from Peru’s fitness coach Nestor Bonillo. “He asked me what I thought about Denmark and I said they were tough, like any European team,” explained the player.
“I told him that their players are grounded in the Danish game, which is all about strength and long balls, winning the knockdowns, being aggressive and playing with intent the whole game.”
He also had praise for the Danes, however. “You never used to get many technically gifted players coming out of Denmark, but they’re playing abroad now and getting stronger again. They’ve all got a little bit of everything. They’ve become more rounded players.”
The Peruvian even had the lowdown on some of the members of the Denmark squad:
- Peter Ankersen: “A right-back with Copenhagen. He’s good on the ball, he knows how to bring it out of defence, and he always gets up in attack.”
- Thomas Delaney: “A midfielder who moved to Bremen last year. He can get forward and score. He can dictate the pace of the game and he’s aggressive in the tackle.”
- Pione Sisto: “He’s very quick and can get past people down the left. He plays for Celta in Spain.”
A sneak preview on FIFA18
“I love the game and I’ve played more than one Peru-Denmark match, against the machine and online. I think I won more than I lost! All the same, I can’t wait for the actual match in Russia.”
Flores on Peru’s Group C opponents
- “The match against Denmark will be crucial. If we can get something out of that game, we’ll have a great chance of making it to the last 16. If we believe in ourselves, then we can do it.”
- “France are the group favourites and one of the favourites to win the World Cup, because of who they are. But I want to beat them all the same.”
- “Australia are a solid, compact and hard-working side. They’re similar to Iceland or New Zealand, but technically superior in my view.”
Peru have gone 12 matches since last tasting defeat, a run of eight wins and four draws since November 2016, when they lost 2-0 to Brazil in Lima in the Russia 2018 preliminaries. That sequence includes eye-catching 2-0 and 3-1 friendly victories over Croatia and Iceland respectively in March.
“Winning boosts your morale,” said the player. “We’re fine. We don’t feel superior because we’ve beaten some decent teams and we don’t feel inferior either. It’s good to have confidence out on the pitch.”
Did you know?
- Flores is one of the first names down on coach Ricardo Gareca’s teamsheets. He scored five goals in 14 appearances in the qualifiers and the intercontinental play-off.