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Peru call up Reyna for World Cup play-off

Lima, Nov 5 (IANS) Peru coach Ricardo Gareca has called up Vancouver Whitecaps forward Yordy Reyna for the team’s World Cup qualifying play-off against New Zealand, the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) has announced.

The 24-year-old, capped six times for the Blanquirroja, replaces striker Paolo Guerrero who has been provisionally banned after a positive doping test, reports Xinhua news agency.

On Friday, the FPF confirmed that traces of an illegal substance were found in a urine sample provided by Guerrero after Peru’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Argentina on October 5. Details of the substance were not revealed.

Officials from both Peru’s national team and Guerrero’s club Flamengo have denied administering any illegal medication to the 33-year-old former Bayern Munich player.

Guerrero’s suspension is seen as a major blow to Peru’s hopes of appearing in their first World Cup finals since 1982.

New Zealand, aiming to qualify for football’s premier event for a fourth time, will host the first leg of the playoff in Wellington on November 11, followed by a clash in Lima four days later.

The case has led to widespread consternation in Peru, with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski expressing the hope that Guerrero will be cleared.

“Everyone in Lima takes some kind of antihistamine because of the horrible weather here in winter,” Kuczynski told local radio station RPP on Saturday.

“Maybe he took an antihistamine and it would be unfair if he were punished for that,” he added.

Guerrero’s national teammate Edison Flores said on Twitter: “We believe in you. Strength, captain #WithYouUntilTheEnd.”

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