YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Underdogs Peru are capable of beating anyone at the World Cup and will not allow France to bully them in their Group C clash, coach Ricardo Gareca said on Wednesday.
Gareca said the Incas, who played some attractive soccer in going down 1-0 to Denmark in their first game, would not change their approach against the highly-fancied French on Thursday.
“This involves playing to our style and not letting France push us around. We are obviously not going to be able to control France all the time but we want to develop our style of play. Our intention is to win,” he told a news conference.
The Argentine acknowledged his players would probably be outgunned by France in every area of the pitch at the Ekaterinburg Arena. “I don’t know if we’ll be on the same level anywhere, to be honest,” he said.
But he stressed Peru, appearing at the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, would not be overawed.
“No matter the circumstances, we are very used to being the underdog in this sort of situation, we are used to living on the edge,” he said.
“I think that we can beat any team - we have the tools to win. We know how to handle ourselves in this sort of extreme situation.”
Gareca declined to say if veteran striker Paolo Guerrero, who looked sharp as a substitute against Denmark, would start the game.
He said the decision had nothing to do with the 34-year-old’s fitness, noting rather that Guerrero had been the last player to join the squad after winning a reprieve from a doping ban.
“Paolo is not constrained in any way,” said Gareca, who also dismissed the idea that Peru had improved after Guerrero came on in the second half against Denmark.
“Honestly I didn’t see any difference. What I saw in the first half, I also saw in the second,” he said.
“If we’ve reached this stage of the competition, it’s because through the whole process we’ve been able to play as a unit, even when very important players were not available.”
Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar; Editing by Tony Lawrence