The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Chile coach announces 30-man preliminary World Cup squad, pinning hopes on Vidal recovery
SANTIAGO, Chile - Injured Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal and Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez headlined Chile's preliminary squad of 30 players for the World Cup on Tuesday.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli resisted naming any major surprises in the squad. Chile is pinning its hopes on the recovery of Vidal, who underwent knee surgery last Wednesday, just five weeks before his country's first match at the World Cup. Juventus said on Tuesday that it has authorized Vidal to return to Chile over the weekend to finish his recovery.
The list also includes for the first time Swedish-born midfielder Miiko Albornoz and leaves out midfielders David Pizarro of Italy's Fiorentina and Humberto Suazo, who plays in Monterrey, Mexico.
Chile has one of the strongest teams in its history but faces a tough challenge in Brazil. It plays its first match on June 13 against Australia, and then faces reigning world and European champion Spain and the Netherlands in Group B.
Even if it qualifies in the group's second spot, it would have to play against host and five-time champion Brazil. But fans remain confident that Chile will continue its good form. It lost only two out of 15 games last year, and drew with Spain and beat England in friendly matches.
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Paulo Garces (O'Higgins),Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica),
Defenders: Gary Medel (Cardiff), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest), Mauricio Isla (Juventus), Eugenio Mena (Santos), Marcos Gonzalez (Union Espanola, Chile), Enzo Andia (Universidad Catolica, Chile), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile).
Midfielders: Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras), Miiko Albornoz (Malmo), Marcelo Diaz (Basel), Felipe Gutierrez (FC Twente), Rodrigo Millar (Atlas), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo, Chile), Pedro Pablo Hernandez (O'Higgins, Chile), Matias Fernandez (Fiorentina), Francisco Silva (Osasuna), Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Jean Beausejour (Wigan).
Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Eduardo Vargas (Valencia), Gustavo Canales (Union Espanola), Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari), Fabian Orellana (Celta).
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