Argentina have been dealt a further blow in their efforts to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after FIFA’s sanctioning of Bolivia over fielding an ineligible player in matches against Chile and Peru. The result has seen both those sides awarded 3-0 wins and that has put Chile above Argentina in the final qualification place.
Bolivia’s use of Paraguayan-born Nelson Cabrera in the 0-0 draw with Chile and the 2-0 win over Peru has caused the issue given that according to FIFA’s rules, Cabrera is not eligible to play for Bolivia.
The Bolivian Football Association should have been aware of this but what is peculiar is that Cabrera went to the Copa América Centenario with Bolivia and presumably nothing was flagged.
Regardless, the impact on these CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers could be significant with Chile gaining a vital two points and Peru gaining three.
As it stands, Chile, by virtue of scoring more goals than Argentina, would go to the playoff and Argentina would not be going to Russia 2018.
The issue with FIFA’s ruling is that it would appear to punish Argentina and Paraguay and benefit Chile far more than it actually disciplines Bolivia. La Verde had almost no chance of qualifying for the World Cup and while perhaps taking the points they won from those matches would be fitting, to award a 3-0 win to their opponents seems generous.
Argentina face Brazil, Colombia and Chile in their next three matches and with only eight games remaining, the pressure on Edgardo Bauza’s side to win these matches has never been greater.