Saturday 24 June 2017, 15:03

Hernandez: We’re good enough to take on anyone

  • A regular on the bench, the midfielder started against Germany

  • Says Chile will not ease off against Australia

  • Adds that La Roja are determined to keep on commanding respect

Give Pablo Hernandez a message and he will take it on board and pass it on to others with a minimum of fuss, two qualities that are very useful for someone in his position.

While Hernandez is one of the ten oldest players in the Chile squad at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, the time he has actually spent on the pitch and the role he plays are more akin to a younger player looking to break their way into the team.

That is why he is determined not to relax when La Roja take on Australia on Sunday, even though they are guaranteed a place in the semi-final provided they don't lose the game by more than a one-goal margin.

“The word ‘relaxation’ is not part of our vocabulary,” the Chile No10 told FIFA in no uncertain terms. “We demand so much from ourselves that we just don’t entertain the idea. Chile have earned a lot of respect lately and we mustn’t lose that. A big team has to play the same way against any side, anywhere and at any stage of a competition. And that’s what we’ll do.”

As Hernandez added, that approach is ingrained in him: “Those who’ve been around for a while are trying to maintain that mystique, that winning mentality, and they’re doing a good job. They’re the ones who are the first to show it in every game.”

*Tucu ***Hernandez: fact file** Club: Celta Vigo Age: 30 International debut: 2014 Caps: 15 Goals: 3

The creative midfielder is not a regular starter under Juan Antonio Pizzi, though he did get the nod for the match with Germany and could be lining up from the start again against the Australians.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity and I understand the responsibility that comes with it,” said the Argentinian-born player. “I enjoy it, though. One day I’ll be able to tell my children and grandchildren that I played in this team.”

Hernandez, who takes as much satisfaction from providing an assist as he does scoring a goal, provides a link between Chile’s experienced golden generation and the younger breed who are beginning to break through. Looking to the future, he is optimistic about what it holds for La Roja: “It’s positive and exciting. There are a few players here who are picking up valuable experience and could go far.”

The stats 90 - the number of minutes Hernandez played against Germany. El Tucu began the game on the right side of midfield but also popped up in the middle, helping Marcelo Diaz with ball-winning and distribution duties and Arturo Vidal with creating play and pressing.

6’1 (1.85m) - the height of the midfielder, which makes him the second-tallest player in a squad that is the shortest in the tournament. His size and ability in the air will be two factors in his favour when it comes to team selection for the Australia game.