On Monday, December 3 Jorge Sampaoli was announced as the new head coach of La Roja, Chile’s national soccer team. Chilean fans are hoping that Sampaoli can help recapture the form that saw them play some of the most exciting soccer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Sampaoli is the former manager of the Universidad de Chile soccer club, one of the premier teams in Chile, and under his reign, one of the best teams on the continent. The club experienced much success in the Sampaoli era, including a victorious 2011 Copa Sudamericana campaign, one of the most treasured soccer prizes in South America. The team also won three consecutive domestic league titles.
The new leader will look to restore La Roja’s confidence and is expected to change the defensive style of play used under Borghi’s term – shifting to an attacking based philosophy that was pioneered by former Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, who took the national team to the 2010 World Cup, qualifying second in South America place.
In order to return to the world stage, the team will have to put an end to its five game losing streak, three of which were World Cup qualifiers. This has dropped the team into sixth in South America, two positions below qualifying.
However, Chile’s national team is putting its fate in the hands of a coach that doesn’t run away when things get tough. Born in Argentina in 1960, Sampaoli grew up playing soccer, but suffered a career ending injury when he was just 19-years-old. Still having a love for the game, Sampaoli decided to join the managerial side of the sport with an amateur team in 1992. Ten years later Sampaoli landed a job for a Peruvian club and he coached the first professional game of his career.
After an impressive run with Universidad de Chile, Coach Sampaoli will take control of La Roja while all of Chile anxiously awaits for the next round of World Cup qualifying matches.
The next round will begin on March 22 against Peru and March 26 versus Uruguay.
Written by Michael Dash