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The Cobra Muñante from Miami: The World Cup may stay in Latin America

The Cobra Muñante from Miami: The World Cup may stay in Latin America

Posted by Liliana Castaño on May 17, 2014

Past glories, the applause that lives the rest of our lives, the legacy to future generations, soccer as a religion.

In these days of warm up towards the global celebration of one of the most popular sports in the world, from PanamericanWorld we wanted to talk to one of the greatest soccer players of all times, to hear his World Cup experience, know his predictions about Brazil 2014 and for his contribution to the soccer of USA.

Juan José Muñante met us at a soccer field in Broward County, South Florida. He invited us to talk at the field prior to the  training with his pupils, aged 15 and 16, many of them Hispanic, hoping to follow his tradition, his desire and a sport that is quickly catching on in America.

Florida Pumas F.C

Better known as the “Cobra” Muñante in Mexico, where his achievements are prevalent, or the “Jet” in his native Peru, this super-fast player was one of the highest rated of his time. The reports and what he  asserted himself, indicate that reached amazing speeds (recorded 11.0 seconds with the ball at his feet in the 100 meters) but  "you couldn’t only be fast, you had to be skilled and intelligent."

The Peruvian soccer newspaper Libero.PE says: "He was one of a kind, he was considered in the 70’s and 80’s one of the best right wingers of the world. His transition abroad was priced at over a million dollars. In the 1978 World Cup, the Argentine coach César Luis Menotti considered him among the seven best right wingers in the history of football.

Muñante was super fast, skillful with the ball, a smart player who knew how to play diagonally. The nickname "Cobra "  was given to him by the Mexican journalist Angel Fernandez after seeing him make an amazing play with Pumas. ‘The Cobra, the Cobra, can even freeze time’ narrated after seeing Muñante sprint through the sideline with great speed and and suddenly stop while the defender marking him ran on a few feet. In Peru he was known as the ‘Jet.’”


Another era, the beginnings ...

The Cobra lived in a completely different time. Nowadays, with 65 years, he fights with incredible strength against a newly diagnosed lung cancer, which he faces according to the principles of his life, with order and discipline. "I was born in Pisco, south of the capital. I started like all kids: playing in the street, on the beach, in the piers, and in the fields. l started at 14 in a club from my province. My first game was terrible, my coach asked me not to play anymore because it was so bad, but I kept playing and every game was better. By the fifth game I earned a place as a starter."

Sincere as he is, says: "Few coaches in Peru at the time had the capacity to form or improve the young the players. In the 60s and 70s, we had no infrastructure or information. The young talents of today have so many resources available, with only having good condition anyone can be a good player."

His skill as a right winger, and speed, specifically, were features the Jet capitalized, “...combining timing, space and ball control."

"I knew when to stretch the ball 15 meters, or when to have it close to my foot, " and that was his relationship with the ball, with the field, and with his goals.

"At 16 I was invited to the capital, I escaped from my mom, traveling 152 miles without saying anything."

He continued breaking records and making history, first in Sports Boys and then at Universitario Deportes, for 8 years, 4 in each. The Cobra accumulated 12 years as a player of the Peruvian national team, which he accompanied in the qualifiers to the 74’ World Cup without success, but luck would change in qualifying for Argentina 78, a historic moment in his career."My crucial time was qualifying to the World Cup, and the classification against Chile, if we lost in Chile we were disqualified. I got the ball, I could dribble one and two players, go from right to left and score the objectives."

Argentina 78’

"I think I came a little late, although in the first round I was the number one right wing of the World Cup, above Causio and Bertoni, but I was 30 years old and had 14 years playing soccer. I think 30 year old players can be helpful, but not the star, that’s why Johan Cruyff decided not to go to that World Cup" although there are many versions about the absence of the Dutch star.

"The players must be aware as to where one should go. I was, but our team did not do very well," referring to the famous match against Argentina, where speculations of a rigged game in favor of the dictatorship of Videla greatly marred the performance of Peru. Beyond recognizing that Peru tends to start well , but does not close in the same manner, as shown by the results of 70, 78 and 82.

"It’s not the same to have skill and applying it. We arrived well, but with poor preparation as a team, with only one month, month and a half. Nothing compared to the time spent by Argentina , Brazil and the Netherlands. It is important for the group know each other, and identify as people, friends and colleagues."

The beloved Mexico

"I played two excellent years in Atlético Español, now Necaxa , where I learned a lot of discipline and  technique. In 76’ went to Pumas, when I went to the World Cup of 78’ I was already one of the popular figures in Mexican soccer, there I grew more , I was a player of international stature and when I returned to you take the colors of Peru, was global elite."

Mexico adopted him, and he understood and enjoyed soccer in Mexico. It was love at first sight, he says. There he began undergoing this wonderful adventure that he develops today as coach of youth in the United States. His name and experience are greatly appreciated.

The Cobra and his 10 notes for the World Cup:

1. Japan: we must put the eye on them. Muñante says that in a recent game with the Netherlands, the Japanese gave a soccer clinic. And this team becomes a real threat to Colombia

2. Colombia is strong, but when they attacks they blur. Now they have excellent players, but they  have to improve their team vision.

3. Brazil, at home, of course are the favorite, but they are playing against the social and political pressure surrounding the World Cup. When the time comes the same factor may favor them, however.

4. Be vigilant, because Argentina can strike. Be careful with their quick attack, for they will break your offensive and defensive lines.

5. Mexico is a compact team, they do not have much individual quality, but can repeat history 94. An unified team, with possession of the ball is strong and desperates the rival.

6. U.S. with Klinsmann despite generating much interest, for Muñante there will be no major surprises, because it is a mature team, but must know how to play in the heat of Brazil, pressing, going up and down, they do not work well with this condition. They must know how to administer themselves.

7. Temperature favors us Latinos and Africans. The latter have against them that they enjoy the game but lose focus.

8. Germany and Italy are the strongest of Europe for the Cobra.

9. Spain: "Without Ronaldo or Messi Spain's story is different: mature players, but a lack of big figures.They have a strong unity as a team, they know each other, hopefully they are allowed to rest and recover a bit. "

10. It’s very likely that the cup remains in Latin America, he finished.


Translated by Sebastian Llavaneras



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