Sunday 04 June 2017, 15:15

Penaranda: I'll take on any role for the team

  • Adalberto Penaranda scored Venezuela's opening goal vs USA

  • The Malaga striker has recorded two goals and three assists at Korea Republic 2017

  • Penaranda insists his side will have no problems with fatigue

Venezuela took no less than 20 attempts at goal in the first 90 minutes of their quarter-final clash against USA, but failed to find the net. As the referee blew the whistle for extra time, the Venezuelan players’ expressions darkened. Ronaldo Chacon and Sergio Cordova had both hit the crossbar with headers, and USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann was looking imperious between the sticks.

“It was a bit of a dire situation, but we still believed that we would be able to get a goal,” said Adalberto Penaranda** to after the match. **“Maybe it was divine intervention that allowed us to score and finally win the game.” After Jonathan Klinsmann blocked yet another attempt from Sergio Cordova in extra time and just as it looked as though he would never be beaten, Penaranda pounced after 96 minutes.

“It was an extremely special moment. It’s not a situation you come across every day,” he said. “I was so relieved to see the ball finally hit the back of the net, after all the chances we’d missed earlier in the game.” Venezuela made it 2-0 in the second half of extra time through a header by Nahuel Ferraresi, only for USA’s Jeremy Ebobisse to head home shortly after. Though USA fought till the bitter end, victory ultimately fell to the Venezuelans.

In the Round of 16 match against Japan, Venezuela also struggled in front of goal. Having endured 240 minutes in the space of just five days, might the South Americans be feeling the burden of fatigue?

“We are physically very fit and we came out unscathed from these back-to-back extra-time games.” said Penaranda. “The game against Japan was very demanding and it went to extra time too but we came out on top in the end. Today was no different. I’m sure we will be ready for the next match.”

Usually deployed as a winger, Penaranda has struck twice in the tournament so far, including today’s opener, and set up three goals. “It is important that I contribute to the team in any way possible. It’s not about how many goals I score or set up though, it’s all about us winning.”

So how does he assess Venezuela's chances in the semi-finals? “We are prepared to take on any team. It won’t be an easy game, no matter who we face. We just need to focus on what we are capable of.”