Posted by: Jessie Kwak | September 7, 2009

Day 3: Ole, ole-ole-ole, Perú, Perú!

Of the ten teams playing in South America’s World Cup qualifiers, only four will go on to play in South Africa next summer.  Peru is firmly ensconced at the bottom of the stack, below even Bolivia and Venezuela, my other two favorite underdogs, and Saturday’s qualifier game against Uruguay was widely expected by Peruvians to end in a massacre.  But even though we were told that Peru hadn’t scored a single goal in their last ten matches, we wouldn’t be dissuaded.  We were going to watch some real South American fútbol.

We knew we were getting close to the Estadio Monumental when vendors started swarming the streets at each stoplight with armfuls of Te Amo Perú jerseys and scalpers waved tickets at the taxi windows.  The lines of people streaming toward the stadium thickened with each block.

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The stadium was opened in 2000, though it looks like it was built in the 70’s and has survived several wars.  Its gray cement walls are adorned with metal spikes and barbed wire, set against the backdrop of barren gray dirt mountains that look like the pilings of a giant excavation.  The sky was the palest of blues–the first blue we’ve seen since coming to Lima.

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Once leaving the taxi, we were caught in a barrage of vendors selling jerseys, scarves, headbands, and jester hats all in the red and white of Peru, sandwiches, bottles of soda, little 1 sole plates of Chinese food.  Rob decked himself out in Peruvian regalia, and we headed into the stadium.

We’d bought tickets in the cheap section 12 soles ($4), made our way through the two police checkpoints, and headed to the South terraces.  Each section was separated from the others by massive chain-link fences topped with iron spikes, and those of us in the North and South sections were kept off the field by rows of riot police and a chain-link fence topped with a lattice of concertina wire.  Apparently this is where the rowdy fans sit.

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The stadium echoed with shrill whistles whenever the 30-person Uruguayan section to our left began to sing their anthem, but despite getting shouted down by en entire stadium full of people every time they opened their mouths, the tiny spot of sky blue in the sea of red remained resolute in their support of their team.

Long story short, Peru won against everyone’s expectations with a tidy little goal in the 86th minute.  Check out Rob’s photos for more of the story.  Viva Peru!

(Oh, they’re still at the bottom of the lists, of course.  I’d hate to lose my chance to root for the underdog.)

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Responses

  1. This was a huge upset. I thought it was great Peru upset Uruguay. Uruguay is fighting for the final automactic as well as play off spot. great win
    http://bobbygee.wordpress.com/.

  2. Peru won for you, bobbygee!


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