Soccer-Chile defeat likely to mark end of ‘Golden Generation’

World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Chile v Uruguay
Soccer Football - World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Chile v Uruguay - Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo, Santiago, Chile - March 29, 2022 Chile's Arturo Vidal looks dejected after being eliminated Pool via REUTERS/Marcelo Hernandez

March 30, 2022

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s 2-0 home defeat to Uruguay on Tuesday confirmed their absence from a second consecutive World Cup finals and likely marks the end of the road for the ‘Golden Generation’ who helped them to back-to-back Copa America titles.

Elite players such as Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Bravo helped crown Chile South American champions in 2015 and 2016, but the team’s failure to reach Qatar was “a big failure”, captain Gary Medel said.

Chile finished seventh of 10 teams in the South American qualifying group, winning only five of 18 games. They lost at Venezuela for the first time, and were held at home by Bolivia, who last reached the World Cup finals in 1994.

Medel said he will not retire yet but he and many of the more experienced players are the wrong side of 30 and few of them are likely to get another chance at World Cup glory.

Sanchez is 33, defender Charles Aranguiz is 32, while Vidal and Medel are both 34. Goalkeeper Bravo is 38.

“It’s inevitable to think of this as the last dance of the Golden Generation, the end of a cycle,” Chile newspaper La Tercera wrote after the Uruguay game.

A few youngsters have come through, most notably Ben Brereton, the Blackburn Rover striker who scored four goals in his first 11 internationals, but there are doubts over the calibre of players who are set to replace the veterans.

(Writing by Andrew Downie in London; Editing by Peter Rutherford)