La Blanquirroja! Toffee Club Friend Peter Erdahl Talks About his Love for the Peruvian National Team
Thanks to Toffee Club friend Peter Erdahl for the wonderful piece below on what it's like to love the Peruvian national team.
He starts with a story from the qualifiers......
October 10, 2017: the final match day of the CONMEBOL eliminatorias and the table was wide open. Brasil and Uruguay had already clinched their place in World Cup 2018, and only two South American qualification spots remained.
As kickoff drew closer, eyes around the world were transfixed on three important matches: Brasil - Chile, Argentina - Ecuador, and Colombia - Perú.
I would be lying if I told you I got much sleep the night prior. I lay awake, attempting to assess each and every eventuality that would lead Perú to World Cup glory. You see, while you would be hard pressed to find a group of fans more passionate and dedicated to their country’s national team as the La Blanquirroja, for me to believe we could make it to Russia after 36 years of coming up empty handed would be ludicrous, right?
The first half of the match was a nervy affair with little clear cut chances for either side. In the 39th minute a high looping ball from Peru’s Andre Carillo was placed perfectly for striker Paolo Guerrero to finish. At the last moment, Colombia center-back, Davinson Sanchez, did just enough to put-off Peru’s all-time leading goalscorer, and the ball grazed off of his head for a goal kick. Feeling the weight of the occasion and the expectation of the nation, Guerrero hit the ground in frustration and let out a scream.
It was like this - back and forth - until 55th minute when a long ball from the Colombian keeper, David Ospina, found its way to the Peruvian box. A poorly timed clearance left the Peruvian defense scrambling and the ever potent, ever graceful James Rodriguez pounced on the opportunity.
1-0 Colombia with a little more than a half an hour to play. If this score were to hold, Peru would miss out on both automatic qualification and the playoff spot, leaving us to watch the World Cup from the sidelines yet again.
As we approached the 70th minute the crowd began to grow restless. The boisterous songs and rhythmic banging of drums that had been echoing throughout the estadio nacional del Perú grew fainter. But then, a glimmer of hope. After a dangerous, high kick from Colombian full-back, Frank Fabra, we received a free-kick.
“Indirect free kick!” exclaimed the commentator.
Suddenly the chants throughout the stadium grew louder and the drums began to pound once more. Guerrero placed the ball on the edge of the 18 yard line, took two steps back, and drew a large breath.
He can’t have a direct attempt on goal, he wouldn’t be that audacious, I thought.
If the referee’s indirect call was unclear to Guerrero, luckily it was also unclear to David Ospina. As the white and red ball sailed over the wall, Ospina lunged, full stretch, out to meet the shot. With his fingertips, Ospina pushed the ball into the side netting and the referee pointed to the center circle. Gol peruano!
The match finished Colombia 1-1 Perú and the stadium erupted. With this result, Colombia and Argentina had solidified their places in the 2018 World Cup and Perú was left with everything to play for in a two-legged elimination round with New Zealand.
- Arriba Perú -
It is reported that the moment Farfán’s strike hit the back of the net, multiple earthquake detection systems around Lima were triggered due to the euphoric celebrations of fans throughout the capital. Although the first match with New Zealand ended in a 0-0 draw, the return leg in Lima saw Perú victorious - winning the final spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
On the eve of Peru’s first World Cup match in over 36 years I find myself as anxious as I was last October. While I could wax poetic about the tactics Ricardo Gareca might implement against Denmark, or the return of el toque peruano, tomorrow’s game means so much than starting lineups alone.
Tomorrow the Peruvians take to the field in Russia, not just a team, but as a nation. Do I expect Peru to win tomorrow against Denmark? Yes. Will I be disappointed with a loss? CSM. Whatever happens, no matter the result, seeing the manner in which Peruvians have coalesced and united around our national team, our national colors, and our national identity, is victory enough to me.
Arriba Perú Carajo!