Venezuela drop Kaizer Chiefs star from matchday squad for Chile

Venezuela drop Kaizer Chiefs star from matchday squad for Chile
Credit: Icon Sport

Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Edson Castillo was missing from the Venezuela squad as the South American nation beat Chile 3-0 in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers clash.

Castillo has been in fine form since he moved to Kaizer Chiefs last summer with four goals in his first 12 games in all competitions.

On Tuesday night, La Vinotinto played host to Chile at the Estadio Monumental de Maturin – the home of Monagas SC, the club where he played his club football prior to making the switch to Chiefs in July.

Castillo went ahead to have two other separate spells with Monagas in 2018 and 2020 so he remains a familiar figure in the city of Maturin.

Castillo received his first national team call-up since February 2022 after being brought in as a replacement for Jesus Bueno who stars for Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Philadelphia Union.

The 29-year-old may have been enjoying a great start to life in the Premier Soccer League, but Venezuela’s national team head coach Fernando Batista opted to omit him from the playing squad for the recent qualifiers against Brazil and Chile. 

Comfortable win for Venezuela in Castillo’s absence

Venezuela head coach Fernando Batista, who opted not to include Castillo in his match-day squad for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier 1-1 draw against Brazil on Friday, opted to do the same thing on Tuesday night. 

Venezuela, who had started the qualifiers with a 1-0 defeat to Colombia and a 1-0 win over Paraguay, managed to hold their own against the star-studded Selecao and force them to a 1-1 draw after Eduard Bello cancelled out Gabriel’s opener late in the match.

The tactician left Castillo and four others out of the squad that faced Chile and they were able to claim a comfortable 3-0 win over the former Copa America champions.

Goals from Yeferson Soteldo, former Everton Striker Salomon Rondon, and Darwin Machis led the team to their second win of the qualifiers. 

By virtue of the win, Castillo’s Venezuela have now climbed into fourth place on the CONMEBOL 2026 World Cup qualifiers log and will next face Ecuador and Peru in the upcoming international break in November. 

Venezuela and Kaizer Chiefs star Castillo chase first World Cup appearance

Venezuela are in the top four position in the CONMEBOL qualifiers with seven points from four games as they continue their chase for a first World Cup appearance. 

In fact, Venezuela are the only CONMEBOL member to have never appeared at a World Cup finals. 

Only the top six teams at the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers will automatically qualify for the Mundial in North America in 2026. Meanwhile, the team that finishes seventh will have to play a rigorous inter-continental play-off in order to book their spot.

With that in mind, Castillo and Venezuela will hope they remain in the top six until the end of the qualifiers as they hope to play at that stage for the first time in their history. 

In total, Castillo has made just six appearances for his home country, scoring once, the last in a 3-1 defeat to Brazil in August 2021. 

Castillo will now return to South Africa, where his club Chiefs will face AmaZulu in the Carling Knockout Cup.

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

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