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Bielsa's stock rising fast as Chile boss

Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa's quest for World Cup redemption got a huge boost as his side beat Honduras 1-0.

Bielsa failed to take his native Argentina out of the group stages in 2002, but said that experience will have no bearing on this campaign.

The coach known as 'El Loco' -- the Crazy One -- said "eight years have gone by and they are totally different experiences. I'm older, that's the only change in me since then".

Chile's win broke the country's 48-year winless streak at the World Cup -- an early achievement for a side that Bielsa said had an objective "to write new records and be remembered".

Bielsa earned his nickname for his intense manner and he doesn't seem to mind the tag.

"It's a fair name I've been given because of the more exaggerated aspects of my personality," he said.

Bielsa has rebuilt his coaching reputation since becoming Chile boss in 2007 and taking them to second place behind Brazil in the South American qualifiers for this World Cup.

Chilean fans at the match yesterday unfurled a giant banner before kick-off, which read "Marcelo Bielsa: Chile thanks you".

It's not just football fans who have fallen for the Argentine. In April, former president Michelle Bachelet told a TV programme about Bielsa's life that "he has that fatal combination for women between being handsome and mysterious. He's attractive, an interesting guy," she said. "When I first met him he caught my attention as a very intelligent person, very cultured and very austere."

Bielsa's Chile is regarded by many in South America as an outside bet to win this World Cup.

The meticulous Argentine has built an attack around striker Humberto Suazo, who top scored with 10 goals in the South American qualifiers.

Suazo is supported by elusive forwards such as Matias Fernandez and Jorge Valdivia, and wide men Alexis Sanchez and Jean Beausejour, who scored the winner yesterday.

Suazo's fitness could be key to the side's hopes. But if Bielsa can mastermind Chile's progress into the latter stages, his reputation as one of the world's top coaches will be rebuilt.


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