Lima (Peru), June 29 (IANS) Thousands of Peruvians welcomed their country’s national team with cheers after it returned from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, in which it took part for the first time in 36 years, and called on coach Ricardo Gareca to stay with the team until Qatar 2022.
With flags and drums, the tide of fans gathered at Lima’s Jorge Chavez airport on Thursday with the same enthusiasm and joy with which they sent the team off to take part in the World Cup nearly a month ago, reports Efe.
Although the team was eliminated in the group stage, the fans wanted to thank the side for its hard work and performance at the tournament. Peru lost to France and Denmark but beat Australia, marking its first win in the tournament in 40 years.
With the whole country focused on the national team, nobody paid heed to the sports director of the Peruvian Football Federation, Juan Carlos Oblitas, who opposed the celebrations, arguing that only successes should be celebrated.
Entire families waited for hours for a glimpse of their idols, but not all were there because some players stayed behind for holidays in Europe, such as the team’s forward Andre Carrillo, the most outstanding Peruvian player in the World Cup.
For many, it was the first time they saw the Peru side in a World Cup, because only those over 40 could remember their team’s participation in Argentina 1978 and Spain 1982, and only older people could recall the Peruvian team’s appearance in Mexico 1970.