PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – Peruvian national soccer team central defender Alexander Callens returned to practice on Tuesday after doctors determined that his left ankle was not injured.
The 27-year-old Callens, who has not seen any action in the Copa America, missed Monday’s practice session because he had to undergo an MRI on his sore ankle.
The New York City FC defender twisted his ankle in practice in Salvador de Bahia on Sunday, a day after Peru eliminated Uruguay in the Copa America quarterfinals.
Callens was injured as the team prepared to travel to Porto Alegre, where Peru will play Chile in the semifinals.
With the temperature hovering around 10 C, Peru practiced on Tuesday at the SESC training facility in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, which is on the border with Argentina and Uruguay.
Previously, the Peruvian national team had practiced at Brazilian league club Internacional’s complex in Porto Alegre.
Peru’s coach, Argentine Ricardo Gareca, is finalizing his lineup for Wednesday’s match against Chile at Arena do Gremio, where his squad played to a 0-0 tie with Venezuela in its first match of the tournament.
Gareca is expected to use the same starters who beat Uruguay: Pedro Gallese; Luis Advincula, Carlos Zambrano, Luis Abram and Miguel Trauco; Andre Carrillo, Renato Tapia, Yoshimar Yotun and Edison Flores; Christian Cueva and Paolo Guerrero.
Few expected a Chile-Peru match-up in the semis, but each team overcame the odds and tough rivals to put themselves in position to play in the final.
In the quarterfinals, Chile had to beat Colombia, which did not lose a match in the group phase, while Peru had to knock out powerhouse Uruguay, whose roster featured big stars Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
Peru, however, will have its work cut out for it against coach Reinaldo Rueda’s Chilean squad.
The Copa America has become a showcase tournament for Chile, which won the last two editions in 2015 and 2016, and Peru will try to spoil the party for its neighbors.
Chile will be vying to defend its title and Peru is aiming to reach its first Copa America final in 44 years.
Peru has not played in the championship match of the regional tournament since 1975, when the Andean nation won its second Copa America.
Peru will be out for revenge after being beaten by Chile in the semifinals at the 2015 Copa America, where the host Chileans ended the Peruvian national team’s dreams, thanks to two goals by striker Eduardo Vargas.
The teams will be fighting for a spot in the Copa America final next Sunday at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where the winner will meet the victor of the other semifinal pitting Brazil against Argentina.