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Sampaoli, Sanchez keen to move on but Vidal remains media focus

Both Jorge Sampaoli and Alexis Sanchez attempted to push Arturo Vidal’s drink-driving incident to one side, as they looked ahead to Chile’s next match at the Copa America.

Chile – the tournament hosts – face fellow Group A front-runners Bolivia on Friday in their final match before the knockout stages, with a draw likely to be enough for Sampaoli’s men to advance.

But just a day after star midfielder Vidal apologised tearfully for crashing his car while under the influence of alcohol, the local media was more interested in off-field topics than Chile’s upcoming fixture.

Vidal had his licence suspended after being involved in a car accident on Tuesday in Santiago, although coach Sampaoli decided on Wednesday – despite strong public and media outrage – not to throw the Juventus midfielder out of his squad.

Sampaoli did not seem interested in discussing his reasoning again on Thursday.

“What happened with Arturo had a quick solution from us,” the 55-year-old coach said at a media conference.

“We made a decision and keep now focusing on the sporting side, which is the most important as Alexis [Sanchez] said just now – to look to Bolivia and to improve our performance, taking the second half against Mexico as an example.

“We need to maintain our style of play. This is the most important – what we do on the pitch. As a coach, I give more value to this.

“We trained very well today and yesterday. I note the level of commitment these players have with the country, with the competition and with the project. What really interest me is tomorrow´s match, I am expectant.”

Sanchez argued it was important the entire Chilean national team set-up got behind Vidal rather than dumped him.

“We are a team and a family and we have to give him our support. We talk about Arturo Vidal’s case and we decided to give him our support,” the Arsenal striker said.

“In other circumstances he may have left or stayed, but now he is in a serious situation and as a group, talking in terms of football, the minimum we could do is to help him a bit.

“If we would have left him alone it would have been worse for him. We are with him, that’s our position.”

Sampaoli also revealed that Sanchez may not play against Bolivia due to “physical discomfort”, with the Argentine coach explaining he had been training with different combinations up front to prepare for the 26-year-old’s potential absence.

Fri 19 Jun, 2015
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