Peruvian team | Richard Páez: “Peru has quality, but I don’t know if it has formed a group yet. Juan Reynoso’s time is getting short” | Peru vs. Venezuela | 2026 Qualifiers | SPORTS-TOTAL

LOOK: Reynoso and his future: the truth about the rumor of his departure and what is the position of the FPF

Richard Paez, a former coach from Venezuela, now lives in the United States after emigrating after the pandemic. He had to leave his job as coach of Mineros de Guayana because he was not convinced of the health measures given in his country.

-Your country is at a great level. Did you expect that and that you would compete in this way in the Qualifiers?

The important thing is that we have seen again that Venezuela that we had observed a while ago, in a condition where it no longer leaves any doubts. Today in football, people only see the result because that summarizes the effectiveness or the concept of seeking results to reach a World Cup. We have always believed that to achieve consistent and persistent results, it is necessary to maintain a game identity. Venezuela has that today: it is represented by an associative game, with a predisposition to attack and with a demonstration of players with the talent to do so. I have seen it again in this selection and thank God, it has come together with results.

-To what do you attribute the Venezuelan revolution in the Qualifiers? The coach, the team, the talent they have?

I think they add up. First, the decision of the coach who took over and the challenge of placing players with that characteristic or functional profile, and the talent that the player possesses. Today we have a generation that plays on any court with the weight of having been runners-up in the U-20 world championship. That had to be added to the senior team. The two things were added and today we have to bet on a Venezuelan player showing his talent. The player responded because he has it. This is an international generation, it is not like before, when we only had names that played in the local league.

-But if I had to name names, who are responsible?

The coaching staff led by Fernando Batista and the group of players who believed and accepted the challenge with that leading condition. That was what we always demanded from Venezuela, that they play as protagonists and not as supporting actors.

-What has Venezuela done in all this time to reach the level it is at?

Having started against Brazil at home, with players with an offensive profile. Venezuela did not go to defend itself, like in the last Qualifiers. He went, he put two starting midfielders and two forwards to give Brazil a worry. He went to fight. And it was 1-1. For me that was what made the difference in what I have seen in this selection. Everyone looked at us with different eyes.



-How is Venezuela working with minors?

I say that the great leap that was made to youth soccer was when it was made mandatory to include the youth player in professional soccer. We gave it real importance, since each club had to have between 4 or 5 players training with the professional team and not only that, use them on the field. Our youth gained experience. Although the level cannot be compared with other leagues, these boys trained professionally and played 40 or 45 games a year, and thus shortened the advantage that a Venezuelan youth had over an Argentine or Brazilian.

-In what year did that rule occur?

It started in 2007 and has just been eliminated, through the new Federation, at the suggestion of José Pékerman’s coaching staff. This rule gave all the results and the following year César Farías qualified a team for the first time to a world championship and then Dudamel achieved that runner-up position in the world, at another time.

-Do you agree that the period has been removed?

We will see. We cannot do anything other than observe, see the reality, I believe that in up to two years we will be able to see the impact of this. This Sub 17 that is now going to the World Cup picks up the last traces and brings players who had professional training experience and I think there is a good squad to compete. From there, this continues to bear the fruits that it has given us so far.

-Today Venezuela is more than Peru?

Today Venezuela is more than Peru, you can see that. I am one of those who believed when I saw Peru vs. Brazil, that Peru maintained those characteristics of an associative game, because I liked what I saw, that they faced each other as equals despite losing, but I believed that they maintained that consistency, I was wrong. It seems to me that he is in the transition stage and in that stage until he achieves a change, a result, he is going to suffer.

-What other conclusions do you have about Peru in these five dates played in the Qualifiers?

You are going through the stage of a team in growth, development and transition. I see most countries like when you go to the Copa América, which generally arrives with a team that is testing. In that group, I see Peru, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia. On the other hand, what happens in Venezuela is that it maintained a similar group, so the transition was not as strong and furthermore, we see my team, as I call it, irreverent to play. Our players responded. In Peru, I saw that the playing attitude that Juan Reynoso proposes does not seem to work: the players with World Cup experience who have not yet integrated with the new ones, in addition to the players who for me are missing and have been vital, like Cueva.

-Is it nonsense to fire Juan Reynoso if we do poorly on this double date?

I think it is Juan Reynoso’s opportunity to show himself and see his ability. It is not easy to have results with an immediate process, I had that experience in 2001, Venezuela was in last place and there were eight dates left and they had supposedly hired me for those dates as a coach and they were surprised that in eight days we won four consecutive games. Imagine Reynoso that I won four games in a row in the Qualifiers, it drives one crazy and even more so in a Qualifiers. Winning four games is impossible, only Argentina or Brazil can do it. We did it and Reynoso seems to me that, out of obligation, he has to add. After these two games, if the results are not given, unfortunately cut off the process.

-Would you give advice to Juan Reynoso?

Believe and be consistent with what he believes, because of what he showed in the first two games, it seemed to me that Peru with talent can compete. There is talent there, Juan Reynoso has become champion in Mexico, an important league and now that he has the privilege of being Peru’s coach, it seems to me that he needs to convince his players, but with consistency, so that they play what the footballer knows how to play. Peruvian with a flush touch and dynamic touches that was what Gareca gave Peru in recent times.

-Why does Venezuela export more players than Peru?

The young Venezuelan soccer player has become desirable because he achieved a runner-up finish in the world championship, he became competitive and earned that respect that he did not have. So, the Venezuelan league is going through a terrible, unfortunate economic crisis, football receives that crisis and its response is to place many young players who have had the opportunity that at another time they would not have had. That is very brave, on the part of the young Venezuelan soccer player.

-Did the crisis strengthen the Venezuelan player?

Venezuela always lacked football culture, normally the Venezuelan analyst or journalist is results-oriented, he based his analysis on results and that generated an insatiability of results, since there was an immediacy to achieve things, you didn’t see the talent, but the talent from outside, especially if you spoke with a different accent you were heard and copied, but if you spoke with the Venezuelan accent it did not have much impact. That improved after the year 2001 when a Venezuelan coach managed to give a leap to the footballer and the way of playing, it is what I always claimed until I left that I did not see it until now, we saw it with César Farías with a different style that He was respected and the team won important things under his command. We went against logic and went to play against whoever, wherever with our intention of playing association football and the footballer responded to that challenge that we posed to him as a coach.

-Can Venezuela go to the World Cup today?

Venezuela started well and took advantage of the transition that Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia are experiencing, despite the fact that the latter has incredible talent in the calls, but that they are required by results and have not managed to establish themselves as a work team. The only team that is demonstrating a dimension of another level is Argentina, which is playing football that characterizes a World champion. Before, Argentina believed that they were playing with quality and played based on Messi, today they overcame their dependence on Messi and play synchronized at the highest level and it shows on the field and Brazil is playing chaotic because they do not have a team work order. Bielsa’s Uruguay is the closest to Argentina because there is a synchronized game that seems to me to make the difference in football today.

-Can Peru beat Venezuela?

I believe that Peru has the quality… I don’t know if it has formed a group yet, I have not seen it solid in the consistency of the game, but that it has the quality and a coach to achieve it, it seems to me that that will take time today Time for Peru is getting short, if it doesn’t do it quickly…

-Do you think it is a big advantage to play with a 39-year-old ‘9’ like Paolo Guerrero?

It is the same question they ask about Salomón Rondón (River Plate), who is already almost the same age and looks like a veteran. I believe that he does have the effectiveness that he has demonstrated in the teams that he plays and what Peru needs is for there to be a harmonious game and good possession for the final goal pass, I think that Paolo has the conditions. But they cannot depend on only Guerrero for all the Qualifiers, but for the beginning it seems to me that he is the best ‘9’ they have. Lapadula may be his replacement.

-Is this Venezuela the best of all time?

I believe they have the best internationalized generation of all time, there is talent and we need to develop a team consistent with offensive play. Today it can be shown that this generation can be a World Cup winner. It’s on that path.

The new national team coach speaks with El Comercio after more than a decade. He ratifies ownership of Cueva, talks about the return of Ruidíaz, is concerned about the local tournament fields and is already organizing what could be called “a local team”, with players from Melgar de Arequipa, a surprise and historic semifinalist of the Copa Sudamericana.
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