Chile hires Lasarte as coach ahead of World Cup qualifiers

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Martín Lasarte has been hired to coach Chile’s national soccer team, replacing Reinaldo Rueda.

The Chilean soccer federation said the deal with the 59-year-old Lasarte will be extended if the team qualifies for next year’s World Cup. The federation announced the hiring on Wednesday.

Chile is in sixth place in the South American qualifying group. The top four teams automatically qualify for the tournament in Qatar. The fifth-place team will go into an inter-continental playoff.

Lasarte is a former player from Uruguay who coached several teams in South America as well as Real Sociedad in Spain and Al-Ahly in Egypt. He won five titles in Uruguay, three in Chile, another in Egypt and helped Real Sociedad get promoted to the first division in Spain.

Rueda left the job in January to take over at Colombia.

Chile will next face Paraguay on March 25 and then travel to Ecuador for another match five days later.

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