Peru to turn to Pizarro and Guerrero

LIMA - Peru will look to once-shamed, German-based strikers Claudio Pizarro and Paolo Guerrero to help them reach the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

There is no reprieve in mind for Jefferson Farfan, however, after his ban for a late-night casino outing, coach Sergio Markarian told Reuters.

Markarian, a tough-talking Uruguayan who took charge in July, said Pizarro and Guerrero would bring much-needed experience to his Peru side preparing for the Copa America in Argentina next July.

"In March, we plan to play in Europe and I think that will be the moment for them to come back into the national team," Markarian, a former Paraguay coach, said in an interview.

Peru hope to line up opponents for friendlies on the two FIFA dates in March for Euro 2012 qualifiers, when some European teams have byes.

Pizarro, who plays for Werder Bremen and holds the record as the highest-scoring foreign player in the German league, has not worn Peru's white-and-red colours since December 2007 when he was sanctioned for indiscipline during the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup.

Even after an 18-month suspension was reduced to three months, the 32-year-old was overlooked by coach Jose del Solar for the rest of the qualifying campaign in which Peru finished bottom of the 10-nation South American group.

Markarian said that for the Copa America, where Peru have been grouped with Uruguay, Chile and Mexico, he wanted to build the team around Hamburg's Guerrero, a 26-year-old who also has an act of indiscipline with the national team in his past, and 27-year-old Fiorentina midfielder Juan Vargas.

"A very good cup will help us prepare well for the World Cup, which is the big objective," he said as he contemplated the task of steering Peru, quarter-finalists in 1970, to the finals for the first time since 1982 in Spain.

"We have some very good players but not so many. Outside of these, we have others who need to improve and we're working on that so they can become consolidated (as a team)."

CASINO CASE

Markarian faced his own crisis of indiscipline at the Peru helm and dealt with it quickly and firmly, banning Schalke 04 striker Farfan for going out late to a casino without permission while on tour in Panama in October.

"I think I made the right move because I cut out all chances of the national team being hurt or attacked and today we have a team without any problems," he said.

Asked if he would reconsider Farfan's ban, Markarian said: "I have no reason right now to consider anything... and I don't have a future plan (on the issue)."

He said Peru's principal virtue was "the very good, professional attitude of the majority of the players who are keen to do something good for their national team."

Apart from the suspension of Farfan and two other players who went to the casino with him, "the lads have worked and trained well, they have behaved well on the pitch and, in the hotels, they have acted like gentlemen, on the trips and in concentration they have been magnificent."

Markarian is working on increasing the strength in depth of the Peru team, "the quantity of players that can be called-up... to allow us to have a competitive team. We're working on that, adding players to that small list of consolidated players."

Peru will play Paraguay in a friendly in February and hope to set up another with Bolivia.

"I think new things will happen in South America. And, God willing, one of those new things will mean Peru have taken their rightful place.

"We must maintain our identity somehow, while improving our efficiency in defence and effectiveness in attack."


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