New Bolivia coach Antonio Carlos Zago takes bold step with surprising forward selection for World Cup qualifiers
Photo: 10/31/2023.- Antonio Carlos Zago arrives to sign the contract with the Bolivian Football Federation. EFE/Luis Gandarillas
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Leer en español: Zago llama a goleador de 38 años nacido en Colombia para enfrentar a Perú y Uruguay
Surprising call for the playoffs
Bolivia's new coach, Brazilian Antonio Carlos Zago, surprised this Tuesday in his first call-up for the World Cup qualifying matches against Peru and Uruguay with the call to a 38-year-old forward born in the Colombian city of Cali.
Jair Alejandro Reinoso Moreno, who turned 38 on June 7, has become a Bolivian national, and in this country, he has established himself as the tenth all-time top scorer in the Bolivian First Division with 166.
The new coach explained that the call to Reinoso, who plays for Bolivian Aurora, is due to the fact that "he is the Bolivian with the highest scorer in the League."
He did not rule out that in the last two games of this year's South American qualifiers a forward partnership between Reinoso and Marcelo Martins Moreno, the top scorer in the history of La Verde, with 31, will begin to take shape.
New era with coach Zago
The former Brazilian soccer player called up 27 players this Tuesday to face Peru and Uruguay in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, 19 are active in local League teams and the other 8 are playing abroad.
Zago said that the criteria he used for his first call to lead La Verde were "the moment the players are experiencing", the "historical" aspect of the national team and the "projection" of the youngest footballers.
The 54-year-old Brazilian coach took over the leadership of Bolivia last week, replacing the Argentine Gustavo Costas, who was dismissed after La Verde accumulated four defeats in the same number of outings in the qualifying rounds.
Among the 'foreigners' mentioned by the new coach are the captain and top scorer of the Verde Marcelo Martins Moreno of the Ecuadorian Independiente del Valle; as well as the defender of the Colombian Deportivo Cali Luis Haquín, the midfielder Henry Vaca of the Maccabi Bnei Reineh, and the striker Jaume Cuéllar of the Spanish Barcelona B.
Also notable are defender Roberto Carlos Fernández from the Russian Baltika; the midfielders Miguel Terceros who plays for the Brazilian Santos, Danny Bejarano from the ranks of the Cypriot Nea Salamina Famagusta and Moisés Villarroel from the Colombian Aguilas Doradas.
The Green coach considered that it is time to "join forces" and for the players to be "motivated and ready to play", to reverse the situation facing Bolivia, which is at the bottom and without units in the classification. "We are going to form the team with players who fit into what we want, how we are going to play," he remarked.
Bolivia will begin training next Saturday to face the Peruvian team in La Paz on November 16, and then visit Uruguay on the 21st.
The 27 summoned from Bolivia are the following:
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Viscarra (The Strongest), Carlos Lampe (Bolívar) and Rubén Cordano (Bolívar).
Defenders: Diego Medina, Pablo Vaca and Héctor Cuéllar (Always Ready); Diego Bejarano, José Sagredo and Jario Quinteros (Bolívar), Luis Haquín (Deportivo Cali-COL), Roberto Carlos Fernández (Baltika-RUS) and Denilson Durán (Blooming).
Midfielders: Gabriel Villamil, Ramiro Vaca and Leonel Justiniano (Bolívar); Moisés Villarroel (Águilas Doradas-COL), Danny Bejarano (Nea Salamina Famagusta-CHI), Miguel Terceros (Santos-BRA), Jeyson Chura and Jaime Arrascaita (The Strongest); Henry Vaca (Maccabi Bnei Reineh-ISR) and Rodrigo Ramallo (Aurora).
Forwards: Marcelo Martins (Independiente del Valle-ECU), Bruno Miranda (Royal Pari), Jaume Cuéllar (Barcelona B-ESP), Carmelo Algarañáz (Bolívar) and Jair Reinoso (Aurora).