Gabriel Jesus threatened to turn from hero to villain but his Brazil team-mates sealed a 3-1 win over Peru at the Maracana and a ninth Copa America title.

Tite's men beat their final opponents 5-0 during the group stage but were under pressure when Peru skipper Paolo Guerrero cancelled out Everton's opener with a 44th-minute penalty.

But Jesus, whose excellent wing play laid on Brazil's first goal, restored the advantage in first-half injury time.

That would prove to be the goal that sealed the five-time world champions' first major honour for 12 years, although a clumsy aerial challenge on Carlos Zambrano was enough to earn Jesus a second yellow card and set up a fraught finale - until substitute Richarlison dispatched a final-minute penalty to spark buoyant celebrations.

Peru began confidently before Brazil hit the front in the 15th minute.

Jesus got the jump on Miguel Trauco with a clever run before jinking around the full-back and crossing for Everton to finish gleefully on the half-volley.

Everton turned provider shortly afterwards as Philippe Coutinho shot wide from 10 yards and Roberto Firmino headed narrowly over in the 36th minute.

They were misses the Selecao would regret when referee Roberto Tobar upheld a harsh handball call against a prone Thiago Silva on review and Guerrero levelled from the spot.

Peru's joy was short-lived, however, as Zambrano's ill-timed slip allowed the razor-sharp Jesus to steal in for a cool finish.

Coutinho fizzed a curling effort fractionally wide six minutes into the second period as Brazil pushed to increase their lead.

Jesus was shown remonstrating in tears on steps inside the stadium tunnel after his fifth foul of the game strained Tobar's patience too far.

Edison Flores sent a rasping strike wide before the action became unhelpfully fractious as far as Ricardo Gareca's men were concerned.

Zambrano then erred once more, bundling Everton over, and Richarlison was on hand to land the final blow.

Marquinhos has recovered from a bout of illness to line up for Brazil against Peru as both countries name unchanged sides for the Copa America final.

Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Marquinhos revealed he was struggling with a stomach virus as he went toe-to-toe with Lionel Messi during the Selecao's 2-0 semi-final win over bitter rivals Argentina.

But he lines up alongside veteran club colleague Thiago Silva at the heart of the Brazil defence, while semi-final goalscorers Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus lead a potent attack for the hosts.

Peru were swatted aside 5-0 when they met Brazil during the group stages but will approach Sunday's match at the Maracana with renewed confidence after dispatching holders Chile 3-0 in their last-four clash.

Goals from Edison Flores, Yoshimar Yotun and Paolo Guerrero secured a first final appearance for their country since the triumphant campaign of 1975, while Brazil are looking to lift the continental crown for a ninth time.

Brazil boss Tite carefully attempted to quell speculation surrounding his future ahead of the nation's first Copa America final appearance in 12 years.

The tournament hosts face a resurgent Peru at the Maracana on Sunday with the aim of being crowned South American champions for the ninth time.

Securing victory would give Tite his first trophy in charge but local reports have indicated success might not convince him to remain in the role.

The 58-year-old is said to be considering moving on in the wake of forced changes to his staff, including the loss of assistant coach Sylvinho to Ligue 1 side Lyon.

Asked several times about the situation at his pre-match news conference, Tite referred only to the bare terms of his employment with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

"The contract is until 2022, after the World Cup," Tite said.

"That's the contract I have with CBF."

Though rumours regarding their coach's intentions linger, Brazil remain firm favourites to overcome Peru after cruising to a 5-0 victory when the teams met in the group stage.

The underdogs have significantly improved since then, with their win against Chile in the semi-final particularly impressive, and Tite insisted the previous encounter provides no clues to the outcome of the final.

"I talked after that match about the difficulties we face against Peru, and that the scoreboard was not representative of the match," he said.

"Both teams are stronger now. It will come down to who wants it more and who performs better on the pitch.

"We have to prepare ourselves for every possible situation, including conceding the first goal, and we are prepared."

Dani Alves will lead Brazil onto the pitch after replacing Neymar as captain in the lead-up to the tournament and is keen not to underestimate the size of the occasion.

"It's very special to be in a final with Brazil, to play at the Maracana in a match like this," the experienced right-back said.

"And we will give everything we have so that our goal is achieved. It will take a tremendous effort, but we are ready."

Paolo Guerrero was born in 1983 - eight years after Peru's last Copa America triumph.

He had only seen them make the semi-finals once before he became a senior international, but with the striker in their ranks they have reached the last-four stage three times.

An unlikely final against Brazil will take place on Sunday, and when you add in a first World Cup appearance since 1982 in Russia last year and the fact Guerrero is La Blanquirroja's all-time leading goalscorer it easy to understand how important he is to Peru.

Guerrero was plucked away from Alianza Lima by Bayern Munich in 2002 and won back-to-back Bundesliga and DFB-Pokals before heading to Hamburg in search of increased game time in 2006.

He struggled for goals in a less gifted team, though he got four during a run to the 2008-09 UEFA Cup semi-finals where HSV were denied a place in the showpiece by Werder Bremen.

Still, Guerrero's next move came as a surprise. At 28 and supposedly at the peak of his powers he swapped Hamburg for Corinthians in 2012, at the time coached by Brazil boss Tite. Within six months he was a Club World Cup champion, heading in the winner for an unexpected 1-0 triumph over Chelsea.

Guerrero had spearheaded Peru's run to the Copa America semi-finals a year prior and he did so again in 2015 - leading the scoring charts on both occasions - but his greatest achievement came in helping his country finish fifth in the mammoth CONMEBOL section of 2018 World Cup qualifying.

The delight of booking a play-off with New Zealand was short-lived, though, as Guerrero was ruled out of the matches due to a 30-day provisional suspension for failing a drugs test on October 5, 2017. He had tested positive for the cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine, which he argued might have been accidentally ingested via a coca leaf in a traditional tea drink.

Without their talisman, Peru still claimed a 2-0 win on aggregate to earn a place in Russia, but regularly changing circumstances made it unclear whether Guerrero would be with the team.

An initial 12-month ban from FIFA was cut in half by its appeal committee to give him hope of playing, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to look at that decision. Less than two weeks after the suspension ended, CAS extended it to 14 months to rule him out of playing in Russia.

However, an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal (BGER) led to Guerrero's sanction being temporarily lifted while it considered the case, clearing him to lead his country at the World Cup.

The situation ended up resulting in him departing Flamengo for Internacional, who were dealt a blow when the BGER confirmed he would have to serve the remainder of his suspension.

Guerrero marked his long-awaited return to action on April 6 with a goal on his debut, heading home a corner in a 2-0 victory over Caxias in the Campeonato Gaucho.

The emotional 35-year-old said after the match: "I was very anxious. I was always apprehensive, uneasy. It was a difficult situation to accept what I have gone through, because of this unfair ban that I had.

"There were days that I was depressed, but I don't want to talk about it anymore. I just wanted to come back to training sessions, to my routine.

"To arrive early, play with my team-mates before and after sessions, to be together with my team-mates and experience the adrenaline of a game, all of this. I missed this very much and now I am here again."

Guerrero now has the opportunity to lead his nation to just a third Copa America title against hosts Brazil at the Maracana on Sunday.

He and Peru fought hard to get there and victory would be the crowning moment in the career of every player in Ricardo Gareca's squad.

Neymar missing the Copa America due to injury was widely expected to be a major blow to Brazil's chances of winning the tournament on home soil.

But instead, Tite's side have reached their first final since 2007 and looked the strongest, most consistent team in the competition.

There have been wobbles - Brazil needed penalties to see off Paraguay in the quarter-finals and were similarly held to a 0-0 draw by Venezuela in the group stage.

The Selecao are overwhelming favourites to beat Peru in Sunday's final, however, especially as they hammered the same opposition 5-0 in their final round-robin match.

Tite has been able to address the loss of the Paris Saint-Germain star seemingly without any great difficulty, which poses an obvious question: Are Brazil better without Neymar?

 

NO GOALS CONCEDED

Neymar plays in attack, but his presence still has an impact on teams defensively. It is hardly controversial to say the 27-year-old is no fan of tracking back to help out his team-mates.

PSG's controlled 2-0 win away to Manchester United in the Champions League was notable for the way their coach Thomas Tuchel was able to get wide forwards Dani Alves and Angel Di Maria to work hard at both ends of the pitch.

Something similar has been evident at this year's Copa America, with Neymar's direct replacement, the effervescent Everton - linked with a lucrative move away from Gremio - shining in a free role off the left wing.

Gabriel Jesus has got through a huge amount of work on the right, even though he was without a goal before finding the net in Brazil's clinical 2-0 semi-final defeat of Lionel Messi's Argentina, a game in which the Manchester City striker was superb.

However, Opta data suggests Brazil's defensive resilience at the Copa is not necessarily linked to Neymar's injury-enforced absence.

Since the 2014 World Cup, Brazil have conceded an average of 0.8 goals per game when Neymar has not played, compared to 0.4 per game when he features.

 

DRAWING A BLANK

Brazil are in the final even though Tite's men have failed to score in two of their past four games at the Copa America, with Jesus and Roberto Firmino netting three times between them during the tournament.

Goals have been shared throughout the team with Neymar missing and five different players were on the scoresheet in the rout of Peru.

Perhaps, then, Neymar's absence could mean others are stepping up to take responsibility, with Philippe Coutinho among them despite coming off the back of a poor individual season at Barcelona.

But again, Opta data seems to show Brazil remain a slightly more compelling attacking force when Neymar is available, compared to when he is not.

They have scored 100 goals in 48 games played with Neymar since the 2014 World Cup, while without him they have found the net 52 times in 26 games.

Arguably the most telling statistic is Brazil's win ratio with and without their talisman.

When Neymar has played for his country in the past five years, they have won 79 per cent of their matches for a points-per-game record of 2.5. Without him, those figures drop to a 58 per cent win ratio and two points per game.

Brazil may have made it to the final of the Copa America without Neymar, but they will still hope the forward is back at peak fitness for next year's tournament, which is being co-hosted by Argentina and Colombia.

Neymar remains the Selecao's star.

Casemiro would love Brazil to thrash Peru again in Sunday's Copa America final – but admits it is almost certain not to happen.

The Real Madrid midfielder opened the scoring at Arena Corinthians as Tite's side demolished Peru in their final group game of this year's tournament.

The victory was Brazil's 31st in 44 meetings with Peru in all competitions and extended their record against them on home soil to 13 wins in 17. Indeed, Ricardo Gareca's side have not even managed a goal in their most recent four away games against the Selecao.

That said, Peru were the last team to defeat Brazil in the Copa America in their own country, way back in the semi-finals of 1975, when they prevailed 3-1.

And Casemiro, a winner of two trophies with the Brazil Under-20s but yet to find success with the senior team, is eager not to underestimate their opponents, who defeated Chile 3-0 in the last four.

"I've played in other finals; I think it's the first with Brazil," he said, as per Globoesporte. "Finals aren't played – finals are won. And we're working towards a win, although with a lot of respect towards our opponents.

"They knocked out two big teams, Uruguay and Chile – we can't forget that. They have the respect of all of us players.

"We shouldn't expect a thrashing. I hope it's like that, but we know it won't be."

Peru's Chamber of Tourism expects 30,000 people to travel for the final in Rio de Janeiro, even though only 5,000 are expected inside the Maracana.

Big screens will also televise the game back at home as Peru go in search of their first continental triumph since 1975, which was also the last time they reached this stage.

Edison Flores is expected to be fully fit after an injury scare but it is Paolo Guerrero who it will be hoped can lead his side to glory on what will represent his 100th cap.

"I respect Brazil very much. I'm happy to face a final against Brazil, a country for which I have a lot of respect," he told Sport TV.

"They'll give all their effort for the cup, so it'll be a very difficult, very tough game."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil – Roberto Firmino

The Liverpool striker has had a hand in more goals (five) than any other player at the Copa America. Given he got a goal and an assist in the previous meeting with Peru, he will have every reason to feel confident ahead of the final.

Peru – Paolo Guerrero

Captain and soon-to-be centurion of the Peru national team, Guerrero will be a rallying point for his team when under pressure and will need to make the most of whatever scoring opportunities come his way. It should be quite the occasion for the 35-year-old.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Three of Peru's four wins against Brazil in all competitions have come in Copa America tournaments: 1-0 in 1953, 3-1 in 1975 and 1-0 in 2016.
- Brazil have won the Copa America on each of the previous four occasions they have hosted the tournament (1919, 1922, 1949 and 1989); they will be looking to lift the trophy for the ninth time, after winning four of the previous eight Copa America tournaments (1997, 1999, 2004 and 2007).
- Peru are the eighth CONMEBOL nation to reach the Copa America final with the current competition format (since 1993); only Venezuela and Ecuador have not managed to reach this stage since then.
- Brazil and Peru will play the first Copa America final in which both teams have kept a clean sheet in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals; indeed, Brazil are yet to concede a goal in this year's tournament.
- Brazil have the highest possession average (66.5 per cent) and passing accuracy (88.8 per cent) in the 2019 Copa America; they also have the most shots attempted (88) and on target (26), and they have faced the joint fewest shots on target (7, level with Uruguay) in this year's tournament.
- If Paolo Guerrero plays against Brazil, he will earn his 25th Copa America cap, the joint most for a Peruvian player in the competition, level with Cornelio Heredia.

Casemiro believes Brazil would be even better with Neymar as he lauded the quality of the squad ahead of Sunday's Copa America final against Peru.

Despite being without Neymar, who is sidelined with an ankle injury, Tite's men and the tournament hosts have reached the decider.

While Casemiro hailed the forward's quality, the midfielder also praised the talent in Brazil's squad.

"The quality of Neymar, indisputably we have to say he is the best Brazilian player," he told a news conference on Friday.

"If the kid is OK, I'll tell you, it's almost impossible to stop him. He is a player of extreme quality, already demonstrated for all, already demonstrated in the Brazilian squad.

"But, of course, we have other great players. We have great players.

"If Neymar were here, it would be better for us and it would help a lot more, but he isn't and we have to overcome his absence, overcome this difficulty.

"We have created a game identity, but if he were here it would be much better."

Brazil head to the Maracana with plenty of confidence, having thrashed Peru 5-0 in the group stage two weeks ago.

Casemiro, who opened the scoring in that win in Sao Paulo, said Brazil needed to avoid changing their approach in the final.

"You have to know the time to suffer, you have to know the time to attack, you have to know the time to defend," he said.

"Above all, we are creating a very solid team at the back. When I say solid back, it's not just the defenders, everyone is committed. That's it, don't lose our characteristics.

"We don't have to do anything different from what we're doing, not only in relation to the last matches, but for the last two, three years.

"We built a good average of wins, few losses. We don't have to do anything different. We have to play our football. We know there is a great team as an opponent, but it is our football."

Peru captain Paolo Guerrero called for the surprise Copa America finalists to be shown more respect following their commanding 3-0 semi-final triumph over defending champions Chile.

Edison Flores and Yoshimar Yotun scored in the opening period before Guerrero added a third in second-half stoppage time to send Peru through to the decider for the first time in 44 years.

Ricardo Gareca's men, who ousted Uruguay on penalties in the previous round, now face Brazil at the Maracana on Sunday.

The host nation romped to a 5-0 victory when the teams met in the group stage, but Internacional striker Guerrero thinks recent results should bring more recognition for a team that reached the last World Cup.

"The team is making history," Guerrero said. "I'm proud of my team-mates. We concentrated, we worked hard and we are in the final. It's going to be a very difficult final.

"I respect Brazil a lot and I am happy [playing for my club] here but in football there are no favourites, and we showed that again today.

"We won convincingly when others talked about Chile. Those people have to have more respect.

"If Brazil want to call themselves favourites then they can call themselves favourites, but on the field we do not think about that.

"We have to do our work with a lot of humility, as always."

Peru have won the Copa America twice previously, in 1939 and 1975, but will arrive in Rio de Janeiro as firm outsiders against eight-time champions Brazil.

However, head coach Gareca is quietly confident of upstaging another South American powerhouse.

"I think we have great players that can surprise in a match of that level," the Blanquirroja boss said.

"We will attack the strengths of the team, because you know that talking individually about each Brazil player is not the best way.

"I trust my players. We are capable of finding the answer on how to win."

Reinaldo Rueda, meanwhile, admitted Chile may have looked too far ahead in their bid for a third successive continental title.

"Maybe we were thinking about playing the final without having solved the semi-final," he said.

Brazil attacker Willian will miss Sunday's Copa America final against Peru due to a hamstring injury.

Willian injured his hamstring in Tuesday's 2-0 semi-final win over South American rivals Argentina in Belo Horizonte.

The 30-year-old, who was drafted into the squad as a replacement for injured star Neymar prior to the tournament, was a second-half substitute against Argentina.

Now, Brazil – seeking their ninth Copa title and first since 2007 – will be without Willian for the decider at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) confirmed to Omnisport.

After routing Peru 5-0 on the third and final matchday in Group A, Brazil will lock horns with Ricardo Gareca's side again following their shock 2-0 win over two-time reigning champions Chile on Wednesday.

Chile's hopes of winning a third successive Copa America are over after a heavy 3-0 defeat against an impressive Peru in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

First-half goals from Edison Flores and Yoshimar Yotun, along with Paolo Guerrero's late sealer, dashed La Roja's dreams of equalling Argentina's record of three consecutive continental triumphs and sent Peru through to their first final since 1975.

Though they only reached the knockout rounds as one of the group stage's two best third-placed teams, Ricardo Gareca's Peru were superior throughout and now face hosts Brazil in Sunday's decider at the Maracana.

Chile's humiliation was complete when Eduardo Vargas dinked a penalty straight to Pedro Gallese at the death.

An entertaining start saw Christian Cueva and Charles Aranguiz poke wide with good opportunities at either end.

Peru settled quickest and punished a disorganised Chile defence in the 20th minute.

Andre Carrillo nodded on Cueva's right-sided delivery and winger Flores made no mistake at the back post.

Gabriel Arias was at fault for the second 18 minutes later, the goalkeeper failing to beat Carrillo to a loose ball and leaving his goal exposed for Yotun to skilfully control and volley home a high cross.

Peru lost Flores to an innocuous ankle injury five minutes into the second half and narrowly avoided another setback when Vargas' glancing header struck the left post.

A well-worked counter should have brought the sealer on the hour, but Yotun ballooned his finish over a gaping target.

Gallese then produced three important stops to keep the two-goal margin intact and, after Guerrero coolly slotted away the third in the 91st minute, denied Chile a consolation.

Luis Abram's rash challenge sent Vargas to the spot in stoppage time but the striker's Panenka met goalkeeper Gallese's outstretched arm.

 

What does it mean? Expectation descends on Selecao

If there was not already enough pressure on Brazil to lift the trophy in their own backyard, the belief of local fans is set to ratchet up further.

Peru last reached the final 44 years ago and the prospect of facing an inexperienced – albeit clearly talented – opponent is sure to sit comfortably with Tite's team.

Cueva exudes class in attack

Though he squandered a promising early opportunity, Krasnodar's Cueva more than made amends by designing Peru's opener.

The attacking midfielder forged a dangerous partnership with centre-forward Paolo Guerrero that gave Chile constant headaches.

Arias all at sea for crucial second

Chile had limited the damage of a poor first half until shot-stopper Arias ventured well outside his area before the break.

Retreating defenders were unable to account for an error in judgement that condemned Reinaldo Rueda's side to defeat.

What's next?

Two-time Copa America winners Peru will hope to upstage Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, while Chile meet Argentina in the third-place play-off a day earlier.

Luis Suarez missed his spot-kick as Uruguay suffered a 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat to Peru in the Copa America quarter-finals following a 0-0 draw in Salvador.

Edinson Cavani squandered a glorious chance midway through the first half, while Diego Godin was guilty of similar profligacy after the interval as Peru hardly tested their opponents at the other end.

Uruguay, who also had a goal disallowed in the first half, twice fell foul of tight offside decisions after Godin's miss – both Cavani and Suarez denied by the flag and subsequent VAR checks.

And Uruguay's poor fortune continued in the shoot-out – Pedro Gallese making a fantastic save from Suarez's opening penalty, with Edison Flores later stepping up to clinch Peru's place in the last four, where defending champions Chile await.

Many of the world's best players will be on show in Brazil over the next few weeks for the 2019 edition of the Copa America, but there will also be some talents hoping to use the tournament as a springboard.

For every Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez there will be a less familiar name attempting to establish himself on the international stage, potentially earning a big move.

The tournament sees the traditional CONMEBOL nations take part, plus guests Qatar and Japan, the latter of whom have named a squad mostly made up of players likely to feature in next year's Olympics.

With the Copa America starting on Friday, we have spoken to the experts to identify one potential breakout star to watch for each nation.

 

GROUP A

Brazil - David Neres (Ajax)

Tom Webber (Brazilian football expert): Following a stellar season with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, Neres has a great chance to make his mark on the international stage. The 22-year-old winger is expected to be handed a starting role following Neymar's injury-enforced withdrawal, despite only making his first start in the 7-0 demolition of Honduras on June 9. Neres scored 12 goals and supplied 11 assists in all competitions for Ajax in 2018-19 and appears primed to make a mark on the Copa America, with plenty of interested parties likely to be keeping a close eye on him.

Bolivia - Edwin Saavedra (Bolivar)

Andres Mendez Dott (Bolivian football expert): Saavedra is a direct and explosive midfielder who started his career as right-back but now plays further forward. At the age of 23, he is closing in on 200 appearances for Bolivar and had a short spell at Brazilian side Goias. Humble off the pitch, he is rather more audacious on it, as he is not afraid to shoot from distance or take on defenders. Coach Eduardo Villegas is still undecided about his starting midfield, but we can expect Saaverdra to be a part of it. There are some rumours he might be deployed on the left, but either way, if he gets the ball and some space, you can count on him testing Dani Alves or Filipe Luis against Brazil. The Copa will be very challenging for Bolivia, but Saavedra could make his mark.

Peru - Renato Tapia (Willem II, on loan from Feyenoord)

Diego Montalvan (Peruvian sports journalist): If there's one player to watch in the Peru side, it's 23-year-old Renato Tapia, coming off arguably his best season in Europe with Willem II. The tournament will also enable him to put himself in the shop window, as he is reportedly looking for a transfer away from parent club Feyenoord. A central midfielder who can also fill in defensively, for Peru Tapia generally plays the role of destroyer to Yoshimar Yotun's creator, but if given the freedom to move forward he can create and even chip in with a few 'golazos'. 'El capitan del futuro', as he is called by many in Peru, is already an undisputed starter, but if he wants to stay in Europe he will have a point to prove in Brazil.

Venezuela - Wuilker Farinez (Millonarios)

Daniel Alvarez Montes (Venezuelan sports journalist): Farinez was part of the Venezuela squad in Chile for the 2015 Copa America when he was just 17. Many criticised then-coach Noel Sanvicente for that decision, knowing Farinez was not going to play. However, Sanvicente insisted it was a great opportunity for Farinez to grow. Four years later, we can say that decision was arguably his best one while in charge of La Vinotinto. Farinez played a significant role for Venezuela's youth sides after that, making a huge impact in tournaments at several age levels. Currently playing for Millonarios in Colombia, the Copa America will be a massive opportunity for him to show the world what he is capable of. Europe could be his next stop, with Benfica front-runners to acquire him.

GROUP B

Argentina - Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis)

Peter Coates (Buenos Aires-based football writer): Finding a balance in midfield, linking defence to attack and crucially providing a partner for Lionel Messi have been issues for Argentina for several years. A new-look squad for the Copa America sees much of that responsibility fall on the shoulders of Lo Celso and coach Lionel Scaloni has already spoken highly of the 23-year-old, hoping the Real Betis playmaker and the world's best player can reproduce a relationship he has already witnessed on the training field. Something akin to an old-fashioned 'enganche' of yesteryear, Lo Celso will operate in the spaces behind the striker and allow Messi to roam off the right with his usual menace. The Rosario Central product's eye for a pass, ability to work in tight spaces and sweet left foot could make him the ideal partner for Messi and crucial to La Albiceleste's success.

 

Paraguay - Matias Rojas (Defensa y Justicia)

Roberto Rojas (Paraguayan journalist): Rojas is expected to be La Albirroja's breakout player in this Copa America. A product of the esteemed Cerro Porteno academy, the 23-year-old followed the path of various Paraguayans looking to get their first break abroad by heading to Argentina, where he was initially loaned to Lanus in 2017, before joining modest Defensa y Justicia the following year. He became a key player for Sebastian Beccacece's team, who secured an historic second-place finish in the 2018-19 Superliga. A central midfielder known for his passing and dangerous set-pieces, Rojas has already signed a contract to join Racing Club, who finished just ahead of Defensa y Justicia. Paraguay manager Eduardo Berizzo is likely to play Rojas in a 4-3-3 formation, where he will be expected to combine with Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron as the team's two-man creative hub.

Qatar - Almoez Ali (Al-Duhail)

Martin Lowe (Asian football expert): Ali went from relative obscurity to the name on everyone's lips at the Asian Cup, finishing as the highest-scoring player and breaking Ali Daei's record with nine goals from seven matches as Qatar claimed a surprise success. A languid target man with strength and the eye for a goal, he threatens from even the trickiest situations and cemented his MVP status at the Asian Cup with an outrageous bicycle kick in the final. Ali – born in Sudan – remains a contentious case amid questions over his eligibility, but he has been allowed to continue representing Qatar. He blossomed in a number of international youth teams, tending to fill his boots whenever he got the opportunity. His all-round game has improved, having been shifted out wide for his club side Al-Duhail, but he is mostly used as a static focal point with more creative types such as Akram Afif and Hassan Al-Haydos playing off him.

Colombia - Luis Diaz (Junior)

Simon Edwards (South American football writer): Diaz is a hugely exciting winger who will be tasked with bringing fresh impetus to Colombia off the bench. He was spotted by Carlos Valderrama and 'El Pibe' recommended Junior snap him up. He has become a star of Colombian league football, with offers received from River Plate and Cardiff City. Diaz plays with the fearless enthusiasm and the joy of a child, but has also complimented his unpredictable, weaving dribbles with goals and improved defensive discipline. He is now a complete attacking midfielder who tracks back and provides a threat. Diaz draws defenders but has the skill and invention to craft a solution. 'Luchito' will take risks and lose possession occasionally, but he also has the quality, pace and confidence to have a huge impact for this Colombia side.

GROUP C

Chile - Erick Pulgar (Bologna)

Adam Brandon (Chile-based South American football writer): Erick Pulgar will probably be given a chance to shine in central midfield in the Copa America after his stellar season with Bologna in Italy. The 25-year-old is good on the ball, passes well and can play a more defensive role as well. He also boasts an excellent penalty record, which could come in handy for Chile again in this Copa America, given how the 2015 and 2016 finals were won.

Japan - Takefusa Kubo (FC Tokyo)

Stuart Smith (Japan-based football writer): Japanese fans will line up to tell you 18-year-old attacker Takefusa Kubo, currently with FC Tokyo but almost certainly headed to a big European club very soon, is the Samurai Blue's player to watch. Small, fleet-footed and not afraid to try tricks, he has shown a maturity beyond his years this season in the J.League. He spent his formative years at Barcelona's famed La Masia, and his technical ability is a testament to that period. Excellent with both feet, extremely skilful and able to spot and drift into spaces that other players cannot, Kubo has the potential to develop into an outstanding player. Coach Hajime Moriyasu will try to manage expectations, but it will be difficult to keep such a talented player off the pitch for too long.

Ecuador - Jhegson Sebastian Mendez (Orlando City)

Xavier Zavala (Ecuadorian football analyst): Coach Hernan Dario Gomez will implement a defensive approach that will appeal to Mendez's greatest strengths, which are his tackling efficiency and relentless motor. The 22-year-old midfielder has shown he is capable of man marking without being rash or overly aggressive and his position with Ecuador will be similar to at Orlando City, where he plays a deep-lying role. The challenge he has is dislodging the Liga de Quito partnership of Jefferson Orejuela and Jefferson Intriago, but given the stamina the system used by 'El Bolillo' requires, rotation is to be expected. Once Mendez gets his chance, he will be in a position to prove his worth.

Uruguay - Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors)

Nick Dorrington (freelance South American football journalist): Nandez is an all-action midfielder who has become a regular for Uruguay over the last year or so, usually playing off the right-hand side. A boundlessly energetic little terrier of a player, he snaps away at the heels of opponents, runs up and down and back again, and gets the ball forward quickly. He is also capable of moments of genuine quality, such as the ball he played through to release Dario Benedetto for Boca Juniors' goal in their Copa Libertadores final defeat to River Plate in December. Linked with a move to Europe, the Copa America could be a useful shop window for the 23-year-old.

President of the Jamaica Gymnastics Association Nicole Grant was full of praise for the team that recently participated in the Pan American Championships in Peru where Jamaica’s men and women each earned two spots in the 2019 Pan American Games.

Despite suffering a dislocated elbow that has ruled her out of competition, Jamaica’s Olympic gymnast ToniAnn Williams has travelled to Peru with the Jamaican team that will be competing at the Pan Am Championships that begin on Tuesday.

Jamaican gymnast Reiss Beckford believes his experience at the Commonwealth Games will help him when he competes at the Pan American Championships that gets underway in Peru on September 10.

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