Peru striker Paolo Guerrero believes his nation’s performances at the Copa America will boost their world status.Guerrero, in particular, hopes Peru’s record in the tournament can steer them towards an elusive spot at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Bottom of South America’s 2010 World Cup qualifiers and absent from the finals since 1982, Peru lost 2-0 to Uruguay in the semi-finals of the Copa America on Tuesday after qualifying from a tight group and upsetting Colombia 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
“I think (Peru) have earned the respect of all South America,” Guerrero, 27, said.
“The job we’ve done is admirable and I’m very proud of the team,” the 27-year-old Hamburg SV striker said.
“With this Copa America I think Peruvian football will change, that all the players will want to be a part of the national team.”
Injury-plagued Peru were given little hope in the tournament but their successes in Argentina have brought optimism for the future.
“We’re looking forward to the… elimination series and everyone in Peru is enthusiastic. That will make us strong, I see a united squad and if it stays this way I think we can qualify (for the 2014 World Cup),” Guerrerosaid.
“We have the players, we have the capacity to reach the World Cup. This squad has only just got together and what we’ve done at the Copa America is already too much. I’m very optimistic.”
Guerrero said the architect of Peru’s change in attitude was their Uruguayan coach Sergio Markarian, who has instilled discipline and tactical order into the players since taking charge a year ago.
“Markarian is a student of the game. He talks a lot with the players… The whole coaching staff give us a lot, they motivate us,” he said.
“I always want to play (for Peru) until I’m carried off the pitch dead.”
Peru, Copa America winners in 1939 and 1975, will play Venezuela for third place on Saturday in La Plata.