Peru’s glory generation was behind them, and the country found itself in the midst of a recession, something which was even mirrored in the national team’s poor results of late. They had had a disappointing Copa América, where they’d exited after the group stage without a win to their name. Fair to say, though, that the recently appointed head coach, Brazilian Pepe, or José Macia as was his original name, who had arrived in Peru at the age of 64, had not had a lot of preparation time. He was allegedly on decent money, something which would’ve brought added pressure.  Could Peru make a race of it in their qualifying group? Read more . . .

World Cup appearances: 1930, 1970, 1978, 1982

Manager: Pepe


Qualifier 1
Estadio Hernando Siles (La Paz)

Melgar (44′ pen.)
Ramallo (54′)


del Solar (41′)

Arriving high in the Andes mountains, the Peruvians would struggle to stamp any kind of authority on the game, even if they had goalkeeper Purizaga to thank for saving some first half efforts, including a penalty from Pérez. Young midfielder del Solar would strike home from inside the area following their favourite set-piece move, where Suárez had found Requena across the area, for the central defender to head it back towards the centre. Still, they couldn’t deal with some of Bolivia’s fine individuals, and having conceded from a second penalty right on half-time, they could not deal with Ramallo’s fine effort early in the second half. Peru mustered no late push for an equalizer. 

Line-up (4-4-2): Purizaga – Carranza, Olaechea (c), Requena, Olivares – Reynoso (Torrealba 67), Valencia, del Solar, Suárez – Navarro (Rey Muñoz 70), Hirano

Qualifier 2
Estadio Nacional, Lima



Sosa (47′)
Alzamendi (68′)

‘Pepe’ had changed the Peruvian formation around, utilising 5-3-2 for this the visit of group favourites Uruguay. They were probably hoping to stifle the quick Uruguayan wide forwards, though both Alzamendi and Sosa got on the scoresheet after a goalless first half, so whether or not it was a success was up for debate. Del Solar had been pushed back into the libero position, and performed well, with Uribe’s timely return in the centre of the pitch a fine boost. He had young Reynoso alongside him, and the teenager did well after having been a misfit wide right last time around. Peru lacked bite up front, and never really threatened to score. 

Line-up (5-3-2): Purizaga – Arteaga, Carranza, del Solar, Requena, Olivares – Reynoso, Uribe (c), Hirano (Manassero 72) – Navarro, Dall’Orso.

Qualifier 3
Estadio Nacional, Lima

Gonzáles (54′)


Montaño (45+2′)
Sánchez (77)

Pepe had opted for a 4-3-3 on this occasion, and they dished out their best performance of the qualification so far, asking several questions of the deep-lying visitors. Gonzáles’ presence through the centre up top made them more powerful, but despite some neat approach play, they failed to build on their early second half equalizer. Still, falling behind late on seemed cruel on them, and when Requena then completed their misery by failing to convert an 81st minute penalty, they lose belief and suffer their third consecutive defeat. Despite their fine efforts, head coach Macia needs to be escorted off by riot police shielding him from objects thrown by the crowd.

Line-up (4-3-3): Purizaga – Arteaga, Requena, del Solar, Olivares – Reynoso, Reyna (c) (Yáñez h-t), Manassero (Torres h-t) – Rey Muñoz, Gonzáles, Hirano.

NEWSFLASH: Team coach Pepe was dismissed in the wake of the home defeat against Bolivia. The Peruvian FA had acted on the back of successive losses in their first three qualifiers, which had come after the team had failed to win any of their four Copa América fixtures. The Brazilian’s assistant, Percy Rojas, was put in temporary charge ahead of their final qualifier.

Qualifier 4
Estadio Centenario, Montevideo

Sosa (45+2′, 58′)



While the result had not been right against Bolivia, Peru had had their opponents on the back foot for large spells of the game. Still, the Peruvian FA had decided to part with ‘Pepe’, and for Rojas’ first match in charge, they had arrived in Uruguay with an expected defensive mindset. The idea was to sit tight and collected, let Carranza shield the centre-backs from his holding midfield position, and look for Hirano to cut inside from the left and partner lone striker Gonzáles when they broke forward. Against such a strong opponent, they held out for the best part of half an hour, which is when Reynoso reacted foolishly to a slap from Bengoechea. Ten against eleven, it became even more of an uphill struggle. They ultimately conceded in first half injury time, and then again on the hour. However, how Hirano failed to tuck away his chance after he’d rounded the ‘keeper while just a goal down, will forever remain a mystery. Four defeats from four, but that poor they had not been.

Line-up (4-5-1): Purizaga – Sanjínez, Arteaga, Requena (c), Guido – Yáñez (Manassero 62), Reynoso, Carranza, del Solar, Hirano (Bazalar 54) – Gonzáles.


Optimism ahead of the qualification was perhaps a little low in the Peruvian camp, especially as they had not set the world alight during the Copa América tournament in Brazil, where they’d avoided defeat in three from four matches, but still not won a single tie. 

Their Brazilian manager José Macia would come under some severe criticism during this qualification. There was little in terms of consistency in his team selections, and he had even seemed unable to find a prefered formation. Indeed, Macia, or ‘Pepe’ as he was nicknamed, would get the sack after three matches, games which had all been lost. However, there had been a major improvement for the visit of Bolivia, where they might have lost, but they’d been very unfortunate to do so. Ultimately, the penalty miss from acting captain Pedro Requena nine minutes from time had cost them at least a point. 

Emerged from the World Cup qualification with an increased reputation: José del Solar

Peru opened their qualification with a journey to neighbouring Bolivia, and in the infamous La Paz altitude, they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. The outcome, a home win, had been richly deserved, and only a small handful of players had left with some level of integrity. Goalkeeper Purizaga, who would excel throughout the qualification, was one of them. He’d saved a first half penalty from Bolivia left-back Roberto Pérez with the score still 0-0. Young, composed midfield man José del Solar would actually put Peru in front just before half time, assisted by Requena’s header following a deadball situation, but shortly after the hosts were level following another penalty. Peru’s right hand side had been abysmal, with neither of full-back José Carranza or wide midfielder, teenager Juan Reynoso, reaching expected levels. 

Next up were a defensively very strong Uruguay team, who arrived in Lima for their opening qualifier. Despite Peru enjoying a fair share of possession, they could not make telling use from it, and they were too lightweight up front to breach the centre-back partnership of Gutiérrez and de León. Uruguay were quick in their transitions, and Peru were hit on the break more than the two occasions from which the visitors had scored. 

Having implemented 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 in their first two qualifiers, ‘Pepe’ switched to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation in their third game, the one at home to Bolivia. This had probably seemed the most winnable of the lot beforehand, and as it turned out, Peru were quite unlucky not to claim at least a point. They had pinned their visitors back for large spells, but just could not find their goalscoring touch. That was apart from Andrés Gonzáles’ early second half strike, of course, which was a perfectly executed counter-attack of their own, which had involved Alfonso Yáñez and Eduardo Rey Muñoz in the build-up.

Purizaga and Requena: Two players among only a handful to provide some sort of consistency throughout the qualification

Despite the vastly improved performance, ‘Pepe’ was released from his duty, and so it became his assistant Percy Rojas who was made temporary chief for their final game, the journey to Uruguay to play a ‘Celeste’ which only needed to win in order to secure qualification for next year’s World Cup. Should Peru have managed to snatch a point, they’d have helped Bolivia reach the tournament proper instead. With a fourth formation of the qualification, and indeed also a fourth starting captain, Peru were looking in confident mood until they had Reynoso sent off for a stupid punch on Bengoechea’s cheek on the half-hour. In first half injury time, after the hosts had had various goalscoring opportunities already, Peru let man of the moment Sosa convert with his deadly left foot. An expected loss seemed on.

Peru came out at the start of the second half and gave it a go, but they would never come closer to scoring than from Jorge Hirano’s effort eight minutes after the restart. After the Bolivia based forward had rounded goalkeeper Pereira, all he needed to do was wrap his left foot around the ball and roll it into the back of that empty net. He couldn’t. The ball had accumulated slightly higher speed from Hirano’s previous touch than the forward had brought into consideration, and so, even if he stretched, he failed to squeeze it into the net for an equalizer. Sosa added his and Uruguay’s second not long after, and the game was gone. So, too, was Peru’s qualification, which ended in four defeats from four. 

With no further games scheduled, the Peruvian FA could take their time before a decision would be made on who would succeed ‘Pepe’/Rojas. Given the form of some players, predominantly Purizaga, Requena and del Solar, a few of them would surely be kept on by the next management team. However, with no World Cup qualification in sight, and with the next major event being the 1991 version of Copa América, everyone’s international future appeared very unclear. 

Final position: 3 (out of 3)
Total record: 4 0 0 4 2-8 0
Home record: 2 0 0 2 1-4 0
Away record: 2 0 0 2 1-4 0

Player Statistics

Number of players used: 24
Number of players including unused substitutes: 25
Ever-presents (360 minutes): 3 (Purizaga, Requena, del Solar)
Leading goalscorer: del Solar and Gonzáles (one each)
Yellow/red cards: 7/1

– overview

del Solar443601
Rey Muñoz211110
González, G.4
Gonzáles, A.221801

– game by game

PlayerBol (a)Uru (h)Bol (h)Uru (a)AppsMins
Reynoso67909032 (s.o.)4279
del Solar909090904360
Rey Muñoz20901+1110
Gonzáles, G.RRRR
Gonzáles, A.90902180

– ratings

PosPlayerAverage ratingNumber of rated games
2del Solar7,024
Explanation to table: A player must have been given a rating in at least three matches in order to feature

Top three individual ratings
1 Purizaga 7,6 vs Uruguay (a)
2 Requena 7,4 vs Uruguay (a)
3 Purizaga 7,2 vs Bolivia (a), Olivares 7,2 vs Bolivia (h), del Solar 7,2 vs Uruguay (a)


Peru did not play another match until a home friendly against Ecuador in June 1991. By that time, they had installed former Sport Boys (domestic champions both in 1990 and 1991) manager Miguel Company as the permanent new national team chief. He would oversee their ’91 Copa América participation in Chile. Nine from their travelling party of 22 for that tournament had featured during their Italia ’90 qualification squads.

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