South American nations always come to the World Cup with pressure and expectations of performing well. Especially the former World champions Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. But great things are also anticipated from the slightly worse (albeit still great) Chile, Paraguay, Colombia, and Peru.
Venezuela’s World Cup Qualification Attempts
Furthermore, at the risk of sounding disrespectful, even Bolivia and Ecuador have each played at a FIFA World Cup on three occasions respectively. However, there is one South American nation that has never reached the competition. That nation is Venezuela. This article takes a closer look at Venezuela’s World Cup qualification attempts.
La Vinotinto’s first qualification attempt was for the 1966 World Cup, where they were drawn into the same group as Uruguay and Peru, losing every game in the process. Their 1970 campaign saw minor improvements, as they obtained one point this time around, following a 1-1 draw with Colombia. This feat was also repeated in 1978 qualification (they withdrew from 1974 qualifiers).
First Win and More Improvements
On 15 March 1981, Venezuela recorded their first win in World Cup qualification – 1-0 against Bolivia. But they still finished last in their group. Venezuela’s next World Cup qualification win was in 1993 – 2-1 against Ecuador. Again they finished last, though. They were awful in 1998 qualification, failing to win a single game out of 16. However, a notable highlight was when their goalkeeper Rafael Dudamel scored against Argentina in a 5-2 defeat. Venezuela’s 2002 campaign was their most respectable one up until that point. Finishing in 9th place. They experienced their first away win and didn’t finish last for the first time in their history.
More Failures and 2007 Copa America
After subsequent World Cup qualification failures in 2002 and 2006, Venezuela had their eyes set on the 2007 Copa America. Despite them being destroyed 4-1 by Uruguay in the quarter-finals, it was a performance to be proud of. They drew 2-2 with Bolivia, defeated Peru 2-0, and managed a heroic 0-0 draw against Uruguay. Yes. They played against Uruguay in their first knockout game even though they were in the same group. I am just as perplexed as you.
Cesar Farias Era
Following Cesar Farias’ appointment as head coach, Venezuela’s results improved. In 2010, they experienced their greatest World Cup qualifying campaign yet, finishing eight with 22 points after 18 matches. Once again failing to qualify. But the Venezuelans had reason to be optimistic because their greatest “moment” was around the corner. The 2011 Copa America in Argentina.
2011 Copa America
Venezuela started the tournament by sensationally holding Brazil to a 0-0 draw. This was followed by a 1-0 win against Ecuador and a remarkable 3-3 stalemate with Paraguay – enough for them to advance to the quarter-finals. Four years earlier, Venezuela had been eliminated in the quarter-finals, but this time around the end result was different. Chile was the opposition.
Oswaldo Vizcarrondo opened the scoring for Venezuela in the 34th minute, but Humberto Suazo equalized for Chile in the 69th. However, Gabriel Cichero of RC Lens scored the winner for Venezuela 11 minutes later. For the first time ever, they had advanced to the semi-finals of the Copa America. In the semi-finals, they suffered a heartbreaking loss on penalties against Paraguay.
Since then, that success has not been surpassed. Venezuelans will have to keep waiting patiently for their World Cup debut. Venezuela’s national team is not bad. Rather the victim of a highly competitive confederation.