- Peru were eliminated from Russia 2018 after losing their first two matches
- They will bid farewell to the tournament by taking on Australia in Sochi
- “It’s a privilege to be here,” said captain Paolo Guerrero
By Gilda Arrua with Peru
Peru’s Paolo Guerrero has a serene air about him – a little dissatisfied, perhaps, but he retains the calm look of someone who has given everything for a cause. “I fought hard to be here,” he told FIFA.com.
The Peruvian skipper, looking forward to his team’s third and final Group C encounter, added: “Against Australia, we’re definitely going for the win. Our heads are not down, because we’ve shown that we can play a bit, but we’re still sad, because I think we deserved better luck.”
Guerrero is hopeful that this World Cup appearance, the South American nation’s first in 36 years, will signal a more regular return to football’s greatest stage, and he believes that this squad is up to the challenge. “We know how we’ve performed, we’re pleased with the level we’ve played at, and I think this young squad will go on to compete at future World Cups – I have full confidence in them,” he said. “But for now, we have to focus on the task at hand: making sure we don’t leave Russia empty-handed.”
The evergreen Blanquirroja striker would have liked to arrive in Russia with the same level of match fitness as the rest of the squad, but he is also grateful just to be taking part in the prestigious event. “I wanted to be on a par with my team-mates, who all have 65-70 games from the previous season under their belts,” he explained. “It’s tough to accept, but the most important thing is that I’m here, and can help the squad. I’m trying to enjoy it to the fullest.”
As far as Guerrero is concerned, team successes are much more important than individual achievements. “My team-mates are fully focused on the game with Australia,” he said. “It would be nice to score a goal; I was on the hunt for one in the last two games. I’ll be looking for one again tomorrow, but the main priority is that the team gets a win. I’ve not been putting too much pressure on myself to score. I just want to help, either by getting my name on the scoreboard or by setting up one of my team-mates for a goal.”
All teams have different sources of motivation when they set out onto the pitch. For Los Incas, it is their large and loyal band of supporters. “Peru is a football nation, and the fans have given this team a lot of love, confidence and support. As a group, we are all very grateful for that. The country has united behind the national team, and that’s great to see."