Hosts Venezuela start their campaign tonight against fellow Copa whipping boys Bolivia in the Group A first-round clash in San Cristóbal. Among the sell out crowd are expected to be Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez and his Bolivian ally president Evo Morales.
Chávez has spent over US$1 billion on hosting the Copa in a bid to boost football’s profile in a country where for many baseball is the national past time. He also hopes the event will be a showcase for his ‘Bolivarian’ revolution.
His country’s main goal? To win a few games and escape Group A. Venezuela’s record in the Copa is pitiful, recording just one win in 1967, a 3-0 victory against tonight’s rivals Bolivia.