Chile's dynamic duo

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez were in high demand prior to the Under-20 World Cup.

It got to a point where both the Chilean senior team and the under-20 team were battling for their services.

Normally the senior squad wins in such instances, but both players knew they had an opportunity to be part of something special in Canada. So both asked to stay with the under-20 side despite getting called up to be part of Chile's entry into the South American championships currently taking place in Venezuela.

"We had the option to go there or to come here," Vidal said. "We decided to come here. We saw that we have a very good team and we have a chance to be world champions. Those opportunities don't come along every day and that's why we wanted to play in this tournament."

Vidal and Sanchez represent a new golden generation of Chilean soccer.

A couple of months ago Vidal became the most expensive export in the county's history as German club Bayer Leverkusen paid $11-million for his services.

"Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez are two players who have played a lot of games professionally in Chile's first division," said Chilean head coach Jose Sulantay. "They've also played a lot of games internationally at different levels. With that they are both important members of our team."

Vidal, 20, is expected to go to Germany to join Leverkusen following this tournament. He spent last season with his hometown club Colo-Colo helping them to the Chilean league title.

At the South American youth championship earlier this year, Vidal played at the heart midfield and led the tournament with six goals allowing Chile to qualify for the World Cup in Canada.

His importance to the success of the team is the reason many in Chile wanted to see Vidal play with the Under-20 side in Canada.

When the national team head coach Nelson Acosta stated he was going to call the pair up for the Copa America, there were national appeals to leave them on the U-20 side.

Eventually after heavy media pressure Acosta relented.

"Both players wanted to play in this tournament," Sulantay said. "So they arranged to come to Canada instead of going to Venezuela to play with the senior team. We are happy that they're here."

Sanchez, 18, known as the Marvelous Boy, began his professional career with Cobreloa in the northern Chilean city of Calama. After one season Italian club Udinese paid a $3-million transfer fee for his services. Last year the Italian club loaned him to Colo-Colo.

Sanchez, who doesn't like speaking to the media, made his senior team debut as a 17-year-old and is considered Chile's next star striker.

However, Sanchez was suspended for Chile's first game against Canada for an accumulation of yellow cards in South American qualifying.

"We'll see if he's fit to play (today)," Sulantay said. "We'll determine that after practice."

Chile won their opening game in convincing fashion over host Canada on Sunday in Toronto.

Tonight they'll host Congo in the second game of a double header at Commonwealth Stadium. A win over the African team would guarantee them passage to the next round of the tournament.

They'll round out the tournament against Austria in Toronto.

"We'd like to keep playing the same way we played against Canada," Vidal said. "If we do that we think we can get a good result and move on to the next stage. We just have to play the way we are capable of playing. We played well, but I think we can get to another level. We're going to have to in order to try and achieve our goals which is to be world champions."


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