“Porque nada tenemos, lo haremos todo.” That was Chile’s slogan when they hosted the 1962 Copa América.
With a population of only 17 million, the national team’s motto was a message to the world: despite being a small country, Chile would leave their souls on the field to achieve something worthy.
It’s been fifty-three years since then, and Chile is still title-less. They haven’t even won a Copa América, a tournament they’ve hosted a total of seven times (a distinction they share with Venezuela, who has also never won the tournament).
Last night’s win over Ecuador is the first of several steps the Chilean team will have to take if it wants to remedy this.
In the opening game, Chile really struggled against Ecuador, a team that parked the bus in defense apparently looking for a tie – or counter attack – at the mythical Estadio Nacional. Almost three-quarters of the game passed by, and despite Alexis Sanchez’ energy and Jorge El Mago Valdivia’s dangerously penetrative offensive, the game remained tied at 0-0.
The first goal had to come by a penalty kick from Chilean King Arturo Vidal, who, moments earlier, had been taken to the ground by defender Bolaños after trying to penetrate the Ecuadorian goal for what seemed like the hundredth time in the game.
The score changed once again when the game was coming to an end, when Eduardo Vargas received a pass into the area and put it away with a left-foot shot.
Despite being a one-sided match with Chile in control of the ball at all moments, the host team left some doubts on its adapting –and penetrating – capabilities against teams with a tight defense.
If Chile really wants to do it all, like it once said, it still has a long road to run.
Although they did enough to beat Ecuador yesterday, a humble and noble team that left everything on the field, improvements will have to be made if the hosts really want to have a chance at the title of the world’s oldest tournament.