Soccer-World-Sampaoli seeks new heights with Chile in Brazil

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By Javier Leira SANTIAGO, April 28 (Reuters) - Jorge Sampaoli has a challenging goal in his meteoric coaching career: to lead Chile to new heights in Brazil. This may have been unimaginable a few years ago, but now the Argentine has it within reach. To do it, the 54-year-old will have to make the most of a group of players regarded as the country's "golden generation". Sampaoli never played professionally because a serious shinbone injury forced him to quit when he was 19 after a short spell in an amateur team. Twelve years after his first job as a first division coach, at Peru's Juan Aurich where he managed to win one match out of eight before being sacked, Sampaoli will enjoy his first World Cup representing a country in which he has become a highly respected figure in a few years. After unsuccessful spells with four Peruvian teams, Sampaoli moved to Chile in late 2007 to coach first division O'Higgins, where he stayed for two years. Then he took charge of Ecuador's Emelec, finishing as runners-up in the league and in 2011 he returned to Chile. A two-year spell in charge of Universidad de Chile, winning three league titles and the Copa Sudamericana (South America's Europa League equivalent), earned him Chilean fans' admiration because of his inalienable attacking game. Due to his adoration of compatriot Marcelo Bielsa, who led Chile to the last 16 at the 2010 finals in South Africa, a Chilean newspaper portrayed Sampaoli as a "bald mini-Bielsa". Sampaoli was hired in December 2012 to replace fellow Argentine Claudio Borghi. He likes a 3-3-1-3 tactical plan and his teams have a tradition of stifling, pressing and fast progression on the pitch. He is a quiet man who gives few exclusive interviews and has a distant but polite relationship with journalists. His arrival turned Chile from a lopsided team with behaviour problems into a respected and admired side that many think could be the biggest surprise in Brazil. (Editing by Rex Gowar and Mike Collett)

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