SANTIAGO, (Reuters) – The turning point in Venezuela’s disappointing Copa America campaign was the dismissal of defender Fernando Amorebieta in the second match against Peru, according to their coach.
“The sending-off against Peru did us a lot of damage,” said Noel Sanvicente after his side finished bottom of Group C.
“If you had to choose one thing from the three matches it was that game against Peru. We were arguably playing better than they were and, as I say, the dismissal did us a lot of damage.”
Amorebieta was sent off in the 29th minute for stamping on an opponent. Peru went on to win the match, leaving Venezuela needing a result from their final group game against Brazil.
They lost 2-1, condemning them to a first-round exit despite a bright start to the tournament when they beat Colombia in their opening match.
“The reality is that we’re out but there were some good things to take away,” said Sanvicente, adding his priority now was qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
Of the 10 countries in the South American football federation, Venezuela are the only team never to have reached a World Cup.