MENDOZA - Tuesday's Copa America
clash between Chile and Peru is simply a football match and
should not be used as an excuse to stir up nationalist
sentiments, Peru's coach Sergio Markarian said on Sunday.
Chile and Peru have traditionally had a dismal relationship,
dating back to the late 19th century when they fought a war in
which Chile annexed a slice of Peruvian land.
They are currently in dispute at The Hague over their
maritime border, and Peru's new President-elect Ollanta Humala
has a history of making scathing comments about the Chileans.
But Markarian, a Uruguayan who used to coach in Chile, said
history and political rivalry should not be allowed to spoil
Tuesday's Group C clash in Mendoza.
"They're two countries that I love a great deal - Peru where
I'm working very happily, and Chile, where I was very well
treated and where I still have many friends," he said after a
training session in Mendoza.
"Please, let's not mix things. Let's allow this to be a
football match and let's enjoy it as much as possible.
"I've asked my players to be careful with what they say to
the press, I've seen a few strange headlines that I haven't
liked. I want this to be nothing more than a purely footballing
Markarian's words were echoed by Peruvian defender Renzo
Revoredo, who appealed to both sets of fans for mutual respect.
"It's a football match - an important one but a football
match nonetheless," he said.
Chile and Peru are level on four points at the top of Group
C. Uruguay (2 points) and Mexico (0 points) are the other two
teams in the group.
Around 30,000 Chileans have made the short trip across the
Andes to Mendoza to support their team and will vastly outnumber
the Peruvian fans in the ground.
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