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Bolivia coach ready to take fall for Copa results

Orlando (AFP) – Under-pressure Bolivia coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso says he will take “full responsibility” for his team’s results at the Copa America Centenario after receiving a thinly veiled ultimatum from his federation’s president.

Bolivia, who face Panama on Monday, have lost five of their six South American World Cup qualifying games so far and crashed to a 4-0 defeat to the United States in their warm-up game for the Copa America.

In the wake of that loss, Federation president Rolando Lopez had said that he would evaluate the national team situation after the Copa America — comments that were interpreted as an ultimatum

But on Sunday, Lopez was quoted by Bolivian media saying that he had met with the coach to clear up the issue.

“I met with Julio, he did not need an explanation. What I said was categorical that I will evaluate the overall performance of the team in the Copa America; that does not mean in any way that we are going to dismiss or remove (the coach). 

“It is natural that a balance is taken at the end of the tournament. I affirm that I’m not mulling possibilities or anything like that,” he added.

Having been drawn in a tough Group D with Argentina, Chile and Panama, the chances of progress in the Centenerio tournament look slim but Baldivieso said he was ready to take anything that came his way.

“If the president says I have to leave, I have to leave. I am not here to take advantage or extort the country like some coaches, which is a difference. If it is not me, then maybe the next coach will qualify Bolivia for the World Cup,” he said.

“We are looking forward to this opening game and this tournament. We know it is going to be tricky. We haven’t really had enough time to prepare for this tournament but if there are negative results, I will be completely responsible,” he said.

Bolivia’s preparations for the game in Kansas City with the USA were disrupted by flight delays after the solitary training session in Miami was abandoned after a power failure at the venue.

Baldivieso was a member of the Bolivian team at the 1994 World Cup — the last time they appeared on the global stage.

The 44-year-old was appointed national team coach in August of last year.

“We know we are Bolivia — not Argentina, Germany or Brazil — we have had so many changes of coaches of the years,” he said. 

“There are no excuses but this is a very short period of time to find that improvement.”

On Sunday, tournament organisers confirmed that injured striker Gilbert Alvarez will be replaced by 18-year-old forward Bruno Miranda in the squad.

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