World Cup 2018: Peru celebrates qualification; Italy trudges home

World Today

Peru is in overwhelming joy after it qualifies for the 2018 World Cup – a first in nearly four decades. It was the final team to qualify, with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand.

Meanwhile, four-time World Cup champion Italy will not appear at the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Lima.

Well into the early hours of the morning in Lima, the cacophony of car horns and celebrations showed no sign of abating.

Tens of thousands of fans – a sea of red and white – celebrated Peru’s World Cup qualification with a fervor not seen for decades.

“I’m so happy because Peru has qualified after 36 years,” Ruben Pardo, a fan of Peru’s national team said.

“Happy, happy, happy, to have come and seen this great match that allows Peru to enter the World Cup after 36 years,” said Ricardo Flores, another fan.

Ricardo Gareca, the coach who guided Peru unbeaten through the qualifying matches, said it was a vindication after decades of frustration.

“We felt great emotion for all the support we have received from our Peruvian countrymen,” he said. “We felt we could not fail, that we couldn’t betray so much affection, so much support.”

Most Peruvians are too young to have seen their country compete in a World Cup. The last time Peru played in football’s most important competition was in 1982.

Peru woke up Thursday a World Cup qualifier, and after a night of heady celebrations the streets are unusually quiet. The country’s president declared a holiday for all schoolchildren and public sector workers but many companies have also told their employees to savor this historic victory by taking the day off.

Peru’s moment of glory couldn’t be further from the shock and despair in Italy, which failed to qualify after 60 years.

It was a bitter blow for the four-time World Cup champions, one of the world’s great footballing nations.

Andrea Trimboli, an Italian fan, said that, “From the Italian side, we did create a couple of moments, we moved the ball around a lot without achieving anything, just 0-0, not getting anywhere. The changes were made too late and it was impossible to do anything. We have to go home like this.”

Francesco Macella, another fan, put it this way: “It is disgusting, the World Cup can’t exist without Italy. It just can’t exist.”

“That’s football,” so the saying goes. Its unpredictability is part of the excitement it generates.

Joy for one nation en route to Russia next year—and pain for another, which must stay at home.