La Vinotinto – Venezuelans Abroad

Back at last to get this site up and away! Apologies for the delay. The day after the Welcome message was posted I was struck down with what some cynics may refer to as a bout of ‘man flu’ and was unable to get around to updating this page. Nevertheless, I am here now and will get things properly kicked off with some posts relating to the Venezuelan National squad, La Vinotinto (The Red Wine – reflecting the burgundy colour of the national shirt), who will be of recurring interest to this site.

Venezuela have been nicknamed the Cinderella (Cenicienta) of the CONMEBOL region for some time, being alone in their failure to qualify for a World Cup. This is a country where the United States’ influence has ensured that baseball prevails, with football in the past having been relegated to A minority interest and predominantly played by those from immigrant families. The national side were very much the whipping-boys of the region and scorelines as well as their overall record up until the 1990s are, as renowned journalist Tim Vickery has repeatedly said over the years, comparable to those of Luxembourg. However, in the past 15 years under their three previous permanent managers, La Vinotino have made a great deal of progress. They have become more organised, gradually improving their performances in World Cup qualification, investing heavily in football, hosting the 2007 Copa América (where they got through to the knock-out stage for the first time) and following that up with a fourth-placed finish in 2011. They have improved so much, in fact, that they have now managed to beat every single CONMEBOL team in a competitive match with the exception of Brazil and given that they did defeat a team including the likes of Robinho, Adriano, Dani Alves and Gilberto Silva 2-0 in a friendly back in 2008, one can not help but feel that this feat is not too far away. They are also currently enjoying their highest ever FIFA Ranking, having jumped from 40th to 30th for July (despite only playing one match this year and that being a defeat against Honduras in March, but let’s not quibble).

Such improvements have been achieved with an ever-rising quality of players, dozens of whom play abroad and, as this site will illustrate, really are scattered all around the globe. A few of these names may well be familiar to some, such as current captain and joint all-time top-scorer Juan Arango, who has recently returned to Mexico after stints in Germany and Spain; Salomón Rondón, who has had successful goalscoring spells in Spain and is currently plying his trade for Champions League side Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia; and Tomas Rincón, who recently ended his contract with last year’s surprise relegation-battlers Hamburg to sign for Genoa in Italy.

At last count, outside of the domestic league, there are Venezuelans either receiving regular call-ups, on the fringes of the national side or optimistic of being selected in the future currently playing in England, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland, Cyprus, Thailand, Qatar, United States, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. There are one or two other countries that contain Venezuelans who may well be counting on a miraculous recall and/or a rapid improvement in their form – these can not be discounted either.

The national side has recently appointed a new manager, Noel ‘Chita’ Sanvicente, who previously enjoyed much success with Venezuelan Primera División sides Zamora and Caracas, winning the championship seven times in all. I can only hope that amongst his backroom staff will be a qualified football detective, tracking the progress of all the nation’s potential representatives, wherever they may be. In absence of that, there will always be this site as I intend to keep readers up-to-date with the most notable news and highlights of the players who are enhancing their reputations outside of their homeland. Those looking for news on the players in Venezuela will also be able to find some information here, as I intend to keep track and pick out the highlights of the domestic league as well, which starts on the weekend of 9-10 August 2014.

Thus, with a new manager and a new era dawning for the national side and a year of preparatory friendlies for a side to develop to challenge for the Copa América and then negotiate their way through Qualifying for Russia 2018, this is definitely an exciting time to start following La Vinotinto and its many exports.

Check back soon for the first update on Venezuela’s foreign legion!

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