Bolivia and Colombia will hope to spark a turnaround in fortunes in their respective World Cup qualifying campaigns when they meet in La Paz on Thursday.
Julio Cesar Baldivieso’s hosts and their Jose Pekerman’s visitors have one win apiece so far to lie eighth and seventh respectively in the gruelling CONMEBOL grind for a place at Russia 2018.
Colombia are without a victory since beating Peru 2-0 on matchday one, with a 20th-minute goal from Lucas Biglia enough for Argentina to leave Barranquilla with the points last time out in November.
There was arguably greater disappointment for Bolivia, who took the lead against Paraguay through New York Cosmos striker Yasmani Duk five days on from a 4-2 triumph over Venezuela.
However, two goals within four minutes from Dario Lezcano and Lucas Barrios meant a third defeat in four outings for Baldivieso’s men, who were unable to capitalise on Pablo Aguilar’s late red card.
“We know that we haven’t made a good start to qualifying, it wasn’t the one we’d hoped for,” Bolivia goalkeeper Romel Quinonez told FIFA.com.
“We’ve made mistakes, for example against Uruguay [in a 2-0 home defeat], and we all know how good a side they are. We need to make the most of home advantage, everyone knows that.
“The manager has been bringing in new faces, calling up young players from the Bolivian football scene. There’s a process going on that, in my opinion, should have been done before.
“For us young guys that play our football here, we’re hoping to make the very most of the opportunity we’re getting.”
Pekerman has also found himself blooding fresh faces during the campaign, with form and fitness having deserted star forward duo Radamel Falcao and Jackson Martinez – both absentees from the squad this time around.
Carlos Bacca is likely to lead the line in their absence, the 29-year-old having scored his 14th goal of the Serie A season for AC Milan in a 1-1 draw against Lazio on Sunday.
Dayro Moreno, who set up Falcao’s winning goal amid La Paz’s punishing altitude in Colombia’s 2-1 victory the last time they contested a World Cup qualifying encounter in the Bolivian capital in 2011, has earned an international recall amid a fall from grace for those more illustrious names
“I have fond memories of the match with Bolivia. That day when I came in I played a good match,” he told AS.
“In the last play I make the pass to Falcao for the second goal for us and we know we must get an important result this time because we need it.”
The Tijuana forward added: “To win in La Paz, we have to be calm and the coach is talking about it, be very calm, play good football, keep the ball and be together line by line – that is what Pekerman emphasises to the squad.
“For me it is important that the two years I’ve been in Mexico the performances have been very good. I come with that enthusiasm.”