Copa America. The 33rd Copa America was dubbed ‘reconquest’ of the tournament – for the first time in decades it was played in its original format: in one country. It was a big effort to boost the tournament into bigger and commercially successful event, so it was to be televised in other continents for the first time and the time-frame and organization, akin to the World Cup and European finals, would be more attractive to fans at large.
Mascot was introduced at this tournament: Gardelito. The symbol of tango, Carlos Gardel, was used, unifying tango with football, a nice touch. However, the South American predicament did not leave much room for maneuvering: the only real change was making participation mandatory. But the structure was the same and there was no other realistic option – there were still 3 groups of 3 teams each and current Copa America holders directly qualified to the semi-finals along with the group winners. The tournament was played in June and July – in the middle of South American winter, which may have been convenient for TV and foreign-based clubs, but in Argentina it was to be cold, rainy, and muddy. Three cities were designated to host the tournament: Group A in Buenos Aires, Group B in Rosario, and Group C in Cordoba. Cordoba was hosting one of the semi-finals, Buenos Aires the other, and the final was to be played in Buenos Aires. Anyhow, that was not all – Copa America had its own logic, a bit mystifying one. Often teams were made of youngish players, some stars did not participate at all, there was a sense of experimenting and most often the tournament really signaled the beginning of new cycle for a national team. This issue was no exception.
Group A. Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador. The hosts – current World champions – were naturally the favourites.
1-Raul Roque Alfaro (Club Atlético River Plate- Buenos Aires)
2-Sergio Daniel Batista (Asociacion Atletica Argentinos Juniors- Buenos Aires)
3-Claudio Paul Caniggia (Club Atlético River Plate- Buenos Aires)
4- Oscar Alberto Dertycia (Instituto Córdoba)
5-Jose Luis Brown (Brest Armorique Football Club / France)
6-Hernan Edgardo Diaz (Club Atlético Rosario Central-Rosario)
7 -Juan Gilberto Funes (Club Atlético River Plate- Buenos Aires)
8- Oscar Román Acosta (Ferro Carril Oeste)
9-José Luis Cuciuffo (Club Atlético Vélez Sársfield -Buenos Aires)
10- Diego Armando Maradona (captain) (Societa Sportiva Calcio Napoli / Italy)
11-Jose Alberto Percudani (Club Atlético Independiente Avellaneda)
12-Dario Andres Sivisky (Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro- Buenos Aires)
13- Oscar Alfredo Garre (Ferro Carril Oeste)
14-Ricardo Omar Giusti (Club Atlético Independiente Avellaneda)
15-Luis Alberto Islas (Club Atlético Independiente Avellaneda) (goalkeeper)
16-Julio Jorge Olarticoechea (Asociacion Atletica Argentinos Juniors- Buenos Aires)
17 Pedro Pablo Pasculli (US Lecce / Italy)
18- Sergio Javier Goycoechea (Club Atlético River Plate- Buenos Aires) (goalkeeper)
19-Oscar Alfredo Ruggeri (Club Atlético River Plate- Buenos Aires)
20-Carlos Daniel Tapia (Club Atlético Boca Juniors -Buenos Aires)
21-Jorge Walter Theiller (Newell’s Old Boys)
22- Jorge Osvaldo Bartero (Club Atlético Vélez Sársfield -Buenos Aires)
Coach: Carlos Salvador Bilardo
Bilardo was not optimistic and tried to damp high expectations: he warned his team was only half-ready, players were missing, some were not fully recovered from injuries, they were tired from their tough seasons, especially the European-based, and he wanted to try some new players in view of 1990 World Cup. What he was not saying was that perhaps neither he, nor his team was taking Copa America very seriously after winning the World Cup and generally lacked motivation. Maradona was coming to play – and he was the big advertisement banner of the tournament – but he was not in great shape and not fully healthy after an injury. Some key players were unable to participate because of injuries (Valdano, Burruchaga, Enrique, Pumpido), some were not released by their clubs (Pasculli and Borghi, whose case was almost ironic: Milan did not let him go because of the so-called Club Mundialito – an unofficial summer tournament invented in Italy, which never fulfilled its original expectations and was at its last issue. Milan did not use Borghi in official games, but now… crucially important for some friendlies. Pasculli was not released by Lecce, but Bilardo kept him in the roster and did not call replacement.) As for new blood – the real young additions in view of still distant future were Caniggia, Dertycia, and to a point Percudani. It was a team neither here, nor there – not really experimental, yet, not not the regular Bilardo’s team. No matter what was said, Bilardo was not a coach given to experiments and big changes: he preferred older, experienced, and well known to him players. The result was quite an illusion: the squad was practically made of the World champions, thus looked formidable and Bilardo could hardly convince anybody that he was looking for the future and because of that, current results would not matter. Effectively, only Caniggia and Percudani played of the youngsters.
1- César Chavez (Club Universitario de Deportes-Lima) (goalkeeper)
2-Percy Olivares (Club Sporting Cristal-Lima)
3- Martín Duffoo (Juventud La Palma)
4-Leonardo Rojas (Club Universitario de Deportes-Lima)
5-Pedro Requena (Club Universitario de Deportes-Lima)
6-Javier Chirinos (Club Universitario de Deportes-Lima)
7-Cesar Loyola (Club Sporting Cristal-Lima)
8-Eduardo Malasquez (Club Universitario de Deportes-Lima)
9-Franco Enrique Navarro (Club Atlético Independiente Avellaneda / Argentina)
10-Julio Cesar Uribe (Corporacion Deportiva America-Cali / Colombia)
11-Jorge Hirano (Club Bolívar Independiente Unificada-Lapaz / Bolivia)
12-Jose González Ganoza (Club Alianza Lima) (goalkeeper)
13 Jorge Arteaga (Club Sporting Cristal-Lima)
14 Juan Reynoso (Club Alianza Lima)
15 Jorge Cordero (Unión Huaral)
16-Jorge Olaechea (Asociacion Deportivo Cali / Colombia)
17-Luis Reyna (Club Universitario de Deportes-Lima)
18-Cedric Vázquez (Deportivo San Agustin)
19-Eugenio La Rosa (Asociacion Atletica Argentinos Juniors- Buenos Aires / Argentina)
20-Roberto Martínez (Deportivo San Agustin)
21-Jose Del Solar (Deportivo San Agustin)
22- José Anselmo Soto (UT Cajamarca)
Coach: Fernando Cuéllar
Clearly, there were no stars of the class of Chumpitaz, Cubbillas, Sotil, and the Peruvians knew it. It was inferior team to the golden generation of the 1979s, an objective reality and thus the main effort was to combine decent squad. There were classy players – Uribe, Oblitas, La Rosa – but not enough.
1-Hector Chiriboga (LDU (Liga Deportiva Universitaria) de Quito) (goalkeeper)
2-Luis Mosquera (Club Deportivo El Nacional- Quito)
3-Kléber Fajardo (Club Sport Emelec- Guayaquil)
4-Wilson Macías (Club Deportivo Filanbanco -Guayaquil)
5 Edgar Germán Dominguez (Club Deportivo Filanbanco -Guayaquil)
6-Luis Enrique Capurro (Club Deportivo Filanbanco -Guayaquil)
7-Fernando Baldeón (Club Deportivo El Nacional- Quito)
8-Alex Darío Aguinaga (Sociedad Deportivo Quito)
9-Lupo Senen Quiñónez (Barcelona Sporting Club- Guayaquil)
10-Hamilton Emilio Cuvi (Club Deportivo Filanbanco -Guayaquil)
11-Geovanny Mera (Club Deportivo El Nacional- Quito)
12-Carlos Luis Morales (Barcelona Sporting Club- Guayaquil) (goalkeeper)
13-Pablo Esteban Marín (Club Deportivo Cuenca)
14-Ney Raul Avilés (Club Sport Emelec- Guayaquil)
15- Urlín Canga Quintero (Club Sport Emelec- Guayaquil)
16- Juan Carlos Jacome (LDU (Liga Deportiva Universitaria) de Quito)
17- Pietro Raúl Marsetti (LDU (Liga Deportiva Universitaria) de Quito)
18-Galo Fidean Vasquez (Barcelona Sporting Club- Guayaquil)
19-Jose Jacinto Vega (Barcelona Sporting Club- Guayaquil)
20 Carlos Milton Enriquez (Sociedad Deportivo Quito)
Coach: Luis Grimaldi (Uruguay)
Modest team, as usual.
Argentina – Peru. It set the the painfully familiar tenor of the tournament: tough clashes, ugly tackles, little football.
Violence took place quickly.
Well, it was the football of the 1980s with additional South American touch.
It was hard to imagine not only somebody prevailing, but imagining football played – it was more rugby.
Dramatic, surely, but perhaps more on still photos than in the real moving game. Uribe and Batista were red-carded in a matter of five minutes time. Maradona opened the result in the 47th minute, but Reyna equalized 10 minutes later and that was that: Argentina 1 – Peru 1.
Argentina – Ecuador. Ecuador was too weak for Argentina, but still the World champions had trouble and secured victory only in the second half.
Conditions were not helpful either – it was very wet pitch.
All ended well – Caniggia, so far coming as a substitute, opened the result in the 50th minute and later Maradona scored 2 more goals, the first from a penalty. 3-0 and Argentina very likely reached the semi-finals.
Peru – Ecuador. Little could be said about this fixture…
It was still more battle than anything – Vazquez (Peru) was sent off in the 83rd minute and by that time Ecuador was leading 1-0. La Rosa finally equalized in the 87 minute and that was it – both team going home after 1-1.
1. Argentina 1 1 0 4-1 3
2. Peru 0 2 0 2-2 2
3. Ecuador 0 1 1 1-4 1