Chile hit by discipline problems again
Coach Claudio Borghi's Chile team will be bidding to go top of the South American group at the Anzoategui stadium in Puerto La Cruz on Sunday.
Borghi dropped midfielder Gary Medel and striker Eduardo Vargas from his squad after they were spotted by a television crew leaving a nightclub at 4am on Wednesday.
He told a news conference on Wednesday night he had dropped Medel as the Sevilla player had only just recovered from a back injury and would be short of rest while Vargas had not returned home as agreed from a Tuesday commitment.
"Medel is in good condition but we think it risky [to play him] as he's not had the necessary rest," the Argentine said.
He said Napoli's Vargas had broken his promise to go home after a farewell for a leading player at his former club Universidad de Chile.
"Five [players] did so and one didn't, the one who didn't broke his word with me," said Borghi.
"I want to make it clear that both players were on a day off but with both we had a spoken agreement. It annoys me to have to face so many cameras for non-footballing occurrences that have become tiresome."
Borghi said, though, that the players would be considered for the next qualifiers in September.
Last November, Chile suspended five players for breaking a curfew during preparations for a match in Uruguay. Four remain banned while midfielder Arturo Vargas has been pardoned and is back in the side, scoring in the 2-0 away win over Bolivia last weekend.
A victory in Venezuela would put Chile, world-ranked 11th, top of the nine-team standings. Argentina, who lead by one point, have a bye this weekend when they will play a friendly against 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil in New Jersey.
Venezuela are third equal, two points behind Argentina, with Uruguay after a 1-1 draw with the Copa America holders 1-1 in Montevideo last Saturday.
Uruguay, ranked second, are expected to field young Sebastian Coates in defence for captain Diego Lugano who is suspended for the home match against Peru at the Centenario on Sunday.
In two matches at high altitude, always daunting for visiting teams, Bolivia host Paraguay in La Paz on Saturday and Colombia visit Ecuador in Quito on Sunday.