Never a dull World Cup moment with Chiles Sampaoli

12 May 2014 09:34

Nothing stops Chile's World Cup coach Jorge Sampaoli getting his hyper-active point across -- even if he has to sit in a tree to shout at his players over a stadium wall.

The 54-year-old Argentine is a bundle of energy at matches, charging along the touchline in a trademark baseball cap, urging the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal to attack.

Though discreet with journalists, Sampaoli rarely holds back in firing verbal assaults against refereeing decisions that go against his players.

Sampaoli's arrival as coach in December 2012 transformed a side that had lost three World Cup qualifying matches in a row and seemed something of a disorganised rabble.

Five wins and a draw from their last six matches in the marathon South American qualifying campaign saw them through, but they were handed a tough draw in Brazil, alongside Spain, the Netherlands and Australia in Group B.

Nevertheless, they are considered among the teams capable of causing an upset as they look to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since hosting the World Cup in 1962.

Sampaoli seemed a natural choice to take charge of Chile after his compatriot Claudio Borghi was sacked, having guided Universidad de Chile to three national titles and the Copa Sudamericana, as well as the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores, South America's leading club competition.

- Double fracture halts career -

A double fracture of the leg ended Sampaoli's playing career at Newell's Old Boys at the age of just 19, but he went into coaching and his tigerish character quickly became apparent.

In the year that he took Belgrano de Arequito to a local Argentine championship in 1996, Sampaoli was ordered out of a stadium because of a verbal assault on a referee.

The Rosario newspaper La Capital published a picture of Sampaoli sat in a tree shouting instructions at his players.

Newell's president Eduardo Jose Lopez saw the image and put him in charge of one of the club's reserve teams.

Sampaoli had a journeyman career with teams in Peru, Chile and Ecuador before taking over at Universidad de Chile in 2011 and demanding the unrelenting attacking football that he learned from his mentor Marcelo Bielsa, another Argentine who coached Chile at the 2010 World Cup.

Sampaoli orders a high energy charge into the opposition half with a playmaker behind two forwards who press wide, a style that can be spectacular but is difficult to maintain.

The Chilean squad now know each other well, and in friendlies ahead of the World Cup they have beaten England 2-0 at Wembley, drawn with Spain and only narrowly been beaten by Brazil.

In typical aggressive style, Sampaoli insists that Chile can win the World Cup. "It's safe to say that Chile are contenders," he said.

"History says that in World Cups people always list the same favourites and names, but we will be as competitive as possible.

"We will not change how we play. We will not allow ourselves to be modified by our opponents. We have to want it more than opponents, to surpass them in spirit.

"We will go man to man against anyone. Our idea is to surprise opponents who are used to having opponents play against them in a certain way."

There will not be a dull moment in any World Cup game where Sampaoli is involved.

Source: AFP

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