Caracas, Nov 30 (EFE).- Argentina’s Jose Pekerman was introduced Tuesday as head coach of Venezuela’s national soccer team and vowed to bring a winning culture to a side long regarded as the weakest in South America.
The 72-year-old former coach of Argentina, Colombia and Mexican-league clubs Toluca and Tigres UANL is replacing Leonardo Gonzalez, who had served an eight-game stint as interim manager.
Gonzalez in turn had taken over from Portugal’s Jose Peseiro, who resigned after not receiving any salary for a year.
“I’ve been very consistent with my ideas, beyond wins, championships, titles and where I was, there was always a style, there was an idea – preserving an identity, caring about a jersey, feeling pride in representing your country, saying that the player who puts on that jersey has to give his best,” Pekerman said at a press conference.
The Argentine is taking the helm of a national side that is in last place in South America’s World Cup qualifying standings and practically eliminated from contention for Qatar 2022.
His first objective therefore will be the 2024 Copa America, while a more distant goal is a first-ever World Cup berth for the South American country.
The Argentine manager’s coaching staff consists of Patricio Camps, Landro Cufre and Fernando Batista, while Pascual Lezcano will be the general manager in charge of all of Venezuela’s national sides, including youth teams.
“There’s a total commitment,” Pekerman, who in 2014 led Colombia to its first World Cup berth in 16 years and its first-ever place in a quarterfinal of soccer’s biggest showcase.
On Tuesday, he said he hopes he can make history again and lead Venezuela to a spot in the 2026 World Cup in North America.
Asked about player suspensions and no-shows, he said he is aware of the situation but that his focus is on the future.
In that regard, Pekerman said he wants there to be competition for roster spots and that time will tell who has the ability and commitment to be a part of this new project.
Without mentioning Peseiro specifically, the Argentina said he is aware of non-payment of salaries but said the issue should be resolved now that new management is in place at Venezuela’s soccer federation (FVF).
Just minutes before Pekerman’s press conference, the Portuguese manager said on Twitter that he had received the money he had been owed.
Asked about keys to booking a berth in the World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the United States, Pekerman stressed the importance of “work, perseverance and discipline” and said good organization will be needed to “properly distribute resources.”
FVF President Jorge Gimenez said for his part that the federation was looking for an experienced coach who would be fully committed to the national side and arrive with a “comprehensive project,” adding that now is the time to transform Venezuelan soccer.
“It’s very difficult to find a head coach because there aren’t many who meet these characteristics,” he said of the search for Peseiro’s replacement.
The hiring of Pekerman is “one of the most important steps the national side and the FVF have taken in their history,” Gimenez said.
“Together, we’re going to build this dream we all want,” he added. EFE