The Peruvian national team received the worst news possible eight days before its most important match in two decades: FIFA has suspended its captain Paolo Guerrero for falling a doping test.
Peru Striker Paolo Guerrero Suspended for Failed Drug Test
Guerrero, who scored six goals in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers and led Peru to a fifth place finish, has been suspended provisionally for 30 days. The striker tested positive after the match against Argentina on Oct. 5.
Guerrero plays for Flamengo in Brazil’s first division, and his club alleged he has not consumed prohibited substances that will affect his team or his country. The Brazilian team said they have evidence Guerrero has never taken illegal substances during his time with the club.
Peru will face New Zealand November 11th and 16th in the in the inter-confederation game for a spot in next year’s World Cup, the most crucial games for this country since 1997. That year, they failed to make the 1998 World Cup in France on the final day of qualifying.
Peru has missed the last eight World Cups, and this is the last opportunity they have to earn a spot to Russia 2018. Now they have to play without their best player.
The Peruvian Football Federation said in a statement they respect FIFA’s decision to suspend Guerrero and hope this situation comes to an end the best way possible. “We have the expectation this issue will be solved permanently,” they added.
The federation also added they support Guerrero. “Paolo, captain and leader of our team, has a vital role for our team in and out of the court due his personality. We appreciate his dedication and support him in this difficult moments”.
A Country Consternated
Peruvian journalist Peter Galindo said this problem has shocked the whole country.”Walking through the streets of Lima, EVERYONE is talking about Paolo Guerrero. Every conversation is about him.”
Walking through the streets of Lima, EVERYONE is talking about Paolo Guerrero. Every conversation is about him.
— Peter Galindo (@GalindoPW) November 3, 2017
The Dream Still Alive
Peru and New Zealand will meet in Westpac Stadium in Wellington on November 11th. The return leg takes place in Lima on November 16th.
Peru’s last World Cup appearance was back in 1982 in Spain, while New Zealand has not participated since South Africa 2010.