Another bizarre uniform-related situation played out in international soccer this week, as a lost jersey had a huge effect on the outcome of a World Cup qualifying match in South America.
On Tuesday, Feb. 1, Peru hosted Ecuador in a crucial CONMEBOL matchup at the Estadio Nacional de Lima in Lima, Peru. The visitors were up 1-0 in the 67th minute when their defender, Ayrton Preciado, went down with an injury and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.
Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro went to his bench and asked defender Diego Palacios to take Preciado’s place. But as Palacios got ready to go in, he couldn’t find his jersey on the bench! In the ensuing chaos, while coaches, staff and players scoured the sideline, Ecuador had to play with only 10 men, and Peru’s Edison Flores scored to tie the game.
According to The Sun, Palacios — who plays his club soccer for Los Angeles Football Club in Major League Soccer — wandered around the sideline without a shirt on for four whole minutes until a kitman returned from the dressing room with his jersey. But the damage had already been done; the game ended in a 1-1 draw, and both teams earned a point in the standings rather than Ecuador taking all three.
“There was a detail, because when Ayrton was injured, I wanted to put on Palacios, the shirt disappeared and that’s why we couldn’t make the change,” Alfaro said in his post-match press conference, according to GiveMeSport.com.
“And at that moment when they bring the shirt, the referee had already set the ball in motion and we were missing a player, and that’s where the play came from.”
After the match, Ecuador sat third out of 10 teams in the final stage of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with 25 points, while Peru was in fifth place with 21 points. The top four teams in the conference standings advance directly to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while the fifth-place team has to play off against a team from the Asian Football Confederation for a berth in Qatar.
All photos, including featured image, courtesy The Sun