Group D: Paraguay       Castellano   Page 2

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 Liga Paraguaya de Fútbol 

Coach: Paolo Cesar CARPEGIANNI.

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12.06.98 Montpellier


19.06.98 Saint-Etienne


24.06.98 Toulouse

Team Colors: Red and White stripes, Blue pants

Confederation: CONMEBOL

5th World Cup finals appearance

Won 1953 Copa América in Perú

Won 1979 Copa América in Argentina

5 times Copa América finalists

Keep an Eye on:José Luís Chilavert: Insufferably arrogant, incredibly talented, Paraguay's hero, villain and madman. His mouth writes checks his sometimes hurt body can't cash.

Fernando Arce: Right wing back, with a measured long-ball delivery.

Carlos Gamarra: The most trusted defender in Paraguay's system, sweeper and strong man. One of three scorers with 3 goals during the qualifiers.

Chilavert: Can change the course of the game

Key players: G José Luís Chilavert (Vélez Sársfield, Argentina),

D Celso Ayala (River Plate, Argentina).

F Arístides Rojas

Analysis: Combative Chilavert, who takes his team's penalty kicks and free kicks of less than 35 yards, can be dominant. Arístides Rojas is an attacking threat.

Big question is midfield - can Robert Acuña get the team going in the right direction? Another big question - Can Chilavert keep quiet long enough to allow us to enjoy his talent?

History: A Paraguay-based Dutchman, William Poats, introduced football to his adopted country at the beginning of the century. The first match was played on November 29 1901 on a field near Al Cabildo. Olimpia became the first professional club on July 25 1902. The first competitive match took place on November 25 1903 between Olimpia and Guaraní. The Paraguayan football federation was founded in 1906 and Guaraní won the first national championship. Paraguay joined FIFA in 1921 and played their first international match against Uruguay on October 9.

Paraguay made its first appearance in a World Cup finals in Uruguay in 1930 and took the Copa América title in Perú in the same year. The national side has played in the World Cup finals a further three times reaching the last 16 in 1986 where they lost to England.

On the domestic front Olimpia, who have won the national title the most times, won the Copa Libertadores twice (1979 and 1990). The present Paraguayan team comprises several outstanding players, including Chilavert, Acuña, Benítez, Gamarra and Arce. They played a leading role in the World Cup qualifying tournament where Paraguay finished second behind Argentina but ahead of Colombia and Chile, the other South American qualifiers.

It has been tough for Paraguay. They have taken 16 games to qualify with what they believe is the best team in their history, and the reward is the most difficult group in the draw. Paulo Cesar Carpeggiani, the coach, won 16 caps for Brazil and managed Flamengo to the 1981 world club championship over Liverpool, has squeezed the optimum out of what he has.

Paraguay drew with Argentina and beat every other team, including Colombia, Chile, Perú and Uruguay, at least once. Without a genuine goalscorer, they shared the goals around a dozen players. Carpeggiani's 3-5-2 system, based on close marking and long passing, is hard to break down. Carlos Gamarra marshals the defense, Roberto Acuña powers the midfield and the right foot of Fernando Arce, the wing back, creates the counter-attacks and many a set-piece goal.

The team conceded only six goals in the first ten qualifying games before, with qualification in sight, it suddenly conceded two goals per match in three consecutive defeats. Paraguay knew the problem and the cure: the absence and the return of a single, wild individual - José Luís Chilavert.

The goalkeeper and captain, Chilavert is the Maradona of his nation, hot-headed, gifted and, at times, self-destructive. He scores penalties, scores in free play and goads and fights anybody. During a 2-1 win over Colombia in Asunción, Chilavert was sent off for brawling with Asprilla. While he served a four-match ban, Paraguay lost to Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. When he came back, they beat Bolivia and Venezuela. France offers him a fascinating stage...if he can help himself from imploding.


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G José Luís Chilavert 32  

G Rubén Díaz 28    

D Francisco Arce 36

D Celso Ayala 27  

D Arnaldo Espinola 22

D Carlos Gamarra 26

D Juan Ramón Jara 27

D Catalino Rivalora 32 

D Estanislao Struway 29  

M Roberto Acuña 25

M Jorge Alcárez 29

M Harles Bourdier 25  

M Hugo Brizuela 28  

M Julio Enciso 23  

M Hugo Ovelar 26  

M Pedro Sarabia 22  

M Gustavo Sotelo 29  

F José Cardozo 26

F Francisco Esteche 24

F Arístides Rojas 29

F Ricardo Rojas 26  

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