It’s been a rocky road for Argentina on its quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Up until today, the national team had been sitting in fifth place — one point and one position outside of the qualifying positions with eight games to play. And today the national team has been dealt another blow, dropping to sixth in the table, without even a minute of international football played across the region.
FIFA announced today that Bolivia’s defender Nelson Cabrera, who played in games against Chile and Peru, is in fact illegible to play for the Andean nation, having failed to meet the necessary FIFA regulations. Despite being a Bolivian citizen, the Paraguayan-born defender, has not yet spent the necessary five years playing within the Bolivian football association, having moved from China to Club Bolívar in 2013.
As a result, Bolivia has been handed 3-0 defeated in its games against Chile (originally a 0-0 draw) and Peru (originally a 2-0 win for Bolivia) which has changed the way the table looks.
And while the resulting changes for Perú and Bolivia are of little importance in the race for qualifying positions, Chile has gained two points and three goals to move above Argentina on goals scored (they have an identical goal difference), pushing Messi and co down into sixth place.
With this unexpected spanner in the works, it’s beginning to feel like it’s simply not meant to be for Bauza’s men who have two tricky upcoming fixtures in the form of Colombia and Brazil. Still, with eight rounds of matches remaining until the end of the qualifying phases, everything is still to play for and that table is sure to see many more changes still. Here’s to hoping the team really starts to step up its game.