Paraguay national football team
La Albirroja (White and red)
|Association||Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol (APF)|
|Confederation||CONMEBOL (South America)|
|Head coach||Víctor Genes|
Roque Santa Cruz
|Most caps||Paulo da Silva (116)|
|Top scorer||Roque Santa Cruz (29)|
|Home stadium||Estadio Defensores del Chaco|
|FIFA ranking||47 1 (14 August 2014)|
|Highest FIFA ranking||8 (March 2001)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||103 (May 1995)|
|Highest Elo ranking||4  (21 February 1954)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||43  (12 August 1962, 5 March 2014)|
| Paraguay 1–5 Argentina
(Asunción, Paraguay; 11 May 1919)
| Paraguay 7–0 Bolivia
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 30 April 1949)
Hong Kong 0–7 Paraguay
(Hong Kong; 17 November 2010)
| Argentina 6–0 Paraguay
(Santiago, Chile; 20 October 1926)
Mexico 6–0 Paraguay
(Maturín, Venezuela; 8 July 2007)
|Appearances||8 (First in 1930)|
|Best result||Quarter-finals, 2010|
|Appearances||34 (First in 1921)|
|Best result||Champions, 1953 and 1979|
The Paraguay national football team is controlled by the Paraguayan Football Association (Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol) and represents Paraguay in men's international football competitions. Paraguay is a member of CONMEBOL. The Albirroja has qualified for eight FIFA World Cup competitions (1930, 1950, 1958, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010) and has reached the second round of the competition on four occasions. A regular participant at the Copa América, Paraguay have been crowned champions of the competition on two occasions (in 1953 and 1979). Paraguay's highest FIFA World Rankings is 8th (March 2001) and lowest is 103 (May 1995), and was awarded second place with Best Move of the Year in 1996. The national team's most successful period was under the coaching of Argentine Gerardo Martino, who was awarded with the South American Coach of the Year in 2007 and took Paraguay to the quarter-final stages of a FIFA World Cup competition for the first time in history (in 2010) and also to the final of the 2011 Copa América, where Paraguay finished as runners-up. In the entire national team's history at the FIFA World Cup, both Carlos Gamarra and José Luis Chilavert hold the distinction of being selected as part of the All-Star Team, being for the 1998 edition. Paulo da Silva holds the most amount of appearances for the national team with 116 and Roque Santa Cruz is the all-time leading goal scorer with 29 goals.
- 1 History
- 1.1 The beginning (1900–1930)
- 1.2 First taste of success (1930–1970)
- 1.3 More continental success (1970–1990)
- 1.4 The golden generation (1990–2006)
- 1.5 2007–2009
- 1.6 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2011 Copa America
- 1.7 2011 and beyond
- 2 Managers
- 3 Results and Fixtures
- 4 Players
- 5 Tournament records
- 6 Titles
- 7 Gallery
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The beginning (1900–1930)
Soon after the introduction of football in Paraguay by Williams Paats, the Liga Paraguaya de Futbol (today Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol) was created in 1906. The first national football team was organized in 1910 when an invitation by the Argentine club Hércules of Corrientes was received to play a friendly match. Members of that first national team where F. Melián, G. Almeida, A. Rodríguez, M. Barrios, P. Samaniego, J. Morín, Z. Gadea, D. Andreani, C. Mena Porta, B. Villamayor, M. Rojas and E. Erico. The match ended in a 0–0 draw.
Because of the increasing number of invitations to play matches and international tournaments, the Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol decided to officially create the national team and select the striped red and white jerseys that until this date remain as the official colours (taken from the Paraguayan flag). In late 1919 Paraguay accepted the invitation to play the 1921 Copa América and in order to prepare for that occasion a number of friendly matches were played between 1919 and the start of the tournament in 1921. The first of those friendly matches was a 5–1 loss against Argentina, and it marked the first international game by the Paraguayan national football team. When the 1921 Copa América finally arrived, Paraguay surprised everybody by beating then three-time South American champions Uruguay by 2–1, being this the first match in an official competition for the Paraguayan football team. Paraguay eventually finished fourth in the tournament and became a regular participant of the tournament for the next editions.
In 1930 Paraguay participated in the first World Cup, organized by Uruguay. In the first round, Paraguay debuted and lost to the United States (0–3), to then defeat Belgium (1–0) with a goal by Luis Vargas Peña. Only one team was to advance from the group stage, and the U.S. left Paraguay behind.
First taste of success (1930–1970)
The first big success came in 1953 when Paraguay won the Copa América disputed in Peru. In their road to the championship, Paraguay defeated Chile (3–0), Bolivia (2–1) and Brazil (2–1); and tied against Ecuador (0–0), Peru (2–2) and Uruguay (2–2). Since Paraguay and Brazil were tied in points at the end of the tournament, a final playoff match was played between them, with Paraguay winning the final by 3–2. Key players of the campaign included Ángel Berni, Heriberto Herrera and Rubén Fernández. The coach was Manuel Fleitas Solich.
For the 1958 World Cup, Paraguay surprisingly qualified ahead of Uruguay (beating them 5–0 in the decisive game) with a team that contained a formidable attacking lineup with stars such as Juan Bautista Agüero, José Parodi, Juan Romero, Cayetano Ré and Florencio Amarilla. In their first game in Sweden, Paraguay were 3–2 up against France in a game they lost 7–3. A 3–2 win over Scotland and a 3–3 draw with Yugoslavia saw Paraguay finish third in their group.
The departure of several of their stars for European football (mainly Spain) resulted in a weakening of Paraguay's football fortunes somewhat, but they were only edged out by Mexico in the 1962 qualifiers.
More continental success (1970–1990)
Paraguay fell short in subsequent World Cup qualifying campaigns, but Copa América success (and that of one of its premier clubs Olimpia in the Copa Libertadores) in 1979 shored up Paraguay as a solid player on the continent.
The 1979 Copa América was won by Paraguay after finishing first in Group C (which had Uruguay and Ecuador as well) with two wins and two draws. In the semi-finals Paraguay defeated Brazil by an aggregate score of 4–3. In the finals, Paraguay defeated Chile by an aggregate score of 3–1 to claim its second continental crown. Players such as Julio Cesar Romero (Romerito), Carlos Alberto Kiese, Alicio Solalinde, Roberto Paredes, Hugo Ricardo Talavera and Eugenio Morel where an important part of the team, coached by Ranulfo Miranda.
Paraguay ended a 28-year absence from the World Cup in 1986 with a team starring Roberto Fernández in goal; Cesar Zabala, Rogelio Delgado and Juan Bautista Torales in defense; Jorge Amado Nunes and Vladimiro Schettina in midfield; midfield playmaker Romerito and strikers Roberto Cabañas, Ramon Angel Maria Hicks and Rolando Chilavert (older brother of José Luis Chilavert). In first round matches, Paraguay defeated Iraq (1–0, goal Romerito) and then tied Mexico (1–1, goal Romerito) and Belgium (2–2, both goals Roberto Cabañas). They reached the second round where they were beaten 3–0 by England.
The golden generation (1990–2006)
In 1992, Paraguay won the South American Pre-Olympic tournament, which guaranteed a spot in the 1992 Summer Olympics football competition. In the Olympics, Paraguay finished second in its group and were eliminated by Ghana in the quarterfinals. The most important aspect of that Paraguay team was the emergence of new young players like Carlos Gamarra, Celso Ayala, José Luis Chilavert, Francisco Arce and José Cardozo, which became part of the "golden generation" that led Paraguay to three straight World Cups and good performances in continental competitions, establishing Paraguay as one of the top teams in South America alongside Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.
This new generation of players helped end the World Cup drought in grand fashion, as the Albirroja reached the France 1998 World Cup by qualifying in second place in South America behind Argentina. The first round matches were against Bulgaria (0–0), Spain (0–0), and Nigeria (3–1; goals Celso Ayala, Miguel Ángel Benítez and José Cardozo). Paraguay qualified to the second round (Round of 16) to be defeated in a thrilling match against hosts and eventual World Champions France. France only scored through Laurent Blanc in the 114th minute, during the second half of overtime (making it the first golden goal scored in a World Cup). Paraguay's central defending duo (Carlos Gamarra and Celso Ayala) and goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert were selected for the all-star World Cup team.
2002 FIFA World Cup
Paraguay came into the 2002 FIFA World Cup tournament with most of their players from France 98, for the first time in a major competition the number #9 was issued to 20-year old Roque Santa Cruz, as José Luís Chilavert would captain the Albirroja at the tournament. Italian coach Cesare Maldini, would also take with him Diego Gavilán, Julio César Cáceres, Nelson Cuevas, Carlos Bonet and Justo Villar to the tournament, young players in their early twenties who had ideally been brought into the squad to make way after the near future retirements of José Luis Chilavert, Ricardo Tavarelli, Francisco Arce, Celso Ayala, Estanislao Struway and Guido Alvarenga. Maldini's appointing as coach, which had taken place in January 2002, had caused controversy as domestic managers were overlooked (prompting the managers union to try to unsuccessfully expel him for immigration breaches and because he spoke little Spanish). Maldini nonetheless had the support of goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert and several other senior players. Maldini would become the oldest coach at the 2002 FIFA World Cup tournament, with the age of 70. His son, Paolo Maldini, captained Italy at the same tournament. Paraguay were drawn into Group B with Spain, South Africa and Slovenia. The Albirroja would face South Africa in their opening group stage match on 2 June at the Busan Asiad Main Stadium in South Korea. Paraguay were without goalkeeper and captain José Luís Chilavert for their first match, as he had spat on Brazil's Roberto Carlos during the qualification campaign, an action which caused FIFA to give him a four-match suspension (later reduced to three) which forced him to watch Paraguay's opening fixture against South Africa from the stands. Paraguay commenced with match with Ricardo Tavarelli as goalkeeper and Carlos Gamarra as captain. Paraguay were presented with a free kick in the 39th minute, which was taken by Francisco Arce and eventually headed into the net by Roque Santa Cruz. Arce himself took another free kick in the 55th minute during the second half, underlining his accuracy with a dead ball, after making it 2–0. South Africa replied with two goals during the last 30 minutes of the fixture to end the tie at 2–2. With the return of Chilavert as captain and goalkeeper, Paraguay faced Spain in their next fixture on 7 June at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium. In the 10th minute, Francisco Arce's shot on goal took a deflection off of Spanish defender Carles Puyol and Paraguay found themselves 1–0 in front. In the second half, Spain's Fernando Morientes would score a double and their captain Fernando Hierro would also convert a penalty to defeat Paraguay 3–1. The result obliged Paraguay to gain three points from their next fixture in order to advance from the group stage. Before the match had commenced, Chilavert had vowed to score against Spain if Paraguay would receive a free kick 'within range', and after conceding two goals from Morientes, Chilavert almost redeemed himself with a good free kick attempt, but the shot was saved by Iker Casillas in the 78th minute. Prior to Paraguay's third group stage fixture against Slovenia, they were required to win by a margin of three goals in order to go through to the round of 16. On 12 June, the two sides faced each other at the Jeju World Cup Stadium, which saw Carlos Humberto Paredes receive his second yellow card in the 22nd minute and Paraguay eventually conceded a goal just as the first half concluded. In the second half, Nelson Cuevas was substituted onto the field for José Cardozo in the 61st minute and would level the scores in the 65th minute. Jorge Luis Campos scored with a low long range strike to put Paraguay ahead in the 73rd minute as Slovenia would then be reduced to ten men after Nastja Čeh was red carded in the 81st minute. Nelson Cuevas would then score Paraguay's third goal with a left footed strike in the 84th minute to win the match at 3–1. Cuevas was ultimately awarded as the Man of the Match. Spain had defeated South Africa 3–2, meaning that although Paraguay and South Africa had finished with four points each, the Albirroja would progress due to goal difference. After the match, captain José Luís Chilavert stated that he was proud of his team and believed that they could accomplish a lot more. Paraguay were then drawn against Germany at the round of 16 stages. The two sides faced each other on 15 June, which saw star striker Roque Santa Cruz substituted off of the field in the 29th minute due to injury. Germany, who had been the more dominant side throughout the match, eventually scored in the 88th minute to win the match after Oliver Neuville netted past Chilavert after receiving the ball which was crossed into him from the wing. Roberto Acuña would also receive his marching orders in the 92nd minute, receiving his second yellow card.
Incident between José Luís Chilavert and Roque Santa Cruz
On 10 June 2013, it was reported that José Luís Chilavert had stated that Roque Santa Cruz had pretended to be injured in order to miss the match against Germany at the round of 16 stage of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Chilavert claimed that this was because Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who at the time was vice president of Bayern Munich (which was the club were Santa Cruz had played from 1999 to 2007), had visited the hotel that Paraguay were staying at and had apparently told Santa Cruz not to play against Germany.
Francisco Arce defended Santa Cruz, informing that "Chilavert comes out to say stupid things every now and then. Don't believe him. Roque is the most professional person that I have ever met in my time in the national team, he is a man that doesn't have a stain in any place".
Roque Santa Cruz himself then stated to Paraguay's Telefuturo that Chilavert's comments were false because they were stated more than ten years after the incident. Santa Cruz also stated that what had been said was painful because alongside Chilavert he had shared many experiences but the people had seen Santa Cruz play and were aware of his professionalism.
2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
Paraguay began the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification with three wins in their first four fixtures in 2003. Having been thrashed 4−1 by Peru in Lima in Round 1 on 6 September 2003, Paraguay would defeat Uruguay with the same result at home four days later, with José Cardozo netting a hat-trick. Cardozo, who scored in Paraguay's next fixture in November, tallied four goals in four matches.
2006 FIFA World Cup
|Trinidad and Tobago||3||0||1||2||0||4||−4||1|
The Uruguayan Aníbal Ruiz took with him 8 European based players and 11 South American based players, including captain Carlos Gamarra, to Germany for the 2006 tournament. Paraguay were without experienced striker José Cardozo, who had finished equal second in the CONMEBOL qualification with seven goals and had been named in the original squad, was injured during training sessions and replaced by Genoa striker Dante López. This was Paraguay's third consecutive FIFA World Cup tournament and the squad was expected to advance from beyond the group stage, given the experienced players within the side. Carlos Gamarra, Roque Santa Cruz, Nelson Cuevas, Carlos Bonet, Carlos Humberto Paredes, Diego Gavilán, Denis Caniza, Julio César Cáceres and Roberto Acuña had already represented Paraguay at previous FIFA World Cup tournaments. Both Roberto Acuña and Carlos Gamarra were participating in their third consecutive FIFA World Cup competition, and Gamarra shared the distinction of having also represented the Paraguay national under-23 football team at both the 1992 Summer Olympics and the 2004 Summer Olympics, the latter in which Édgar Barreto and Julio César Manzur had also participated, the latter two were also selected in the 23-man squad for Germany.
Paraguay were drawn into Group B alongside England, Sweden and Trinidad and Tobago. Paraguay faced England in their opening group stage match on 10 June in Frankfurt. After just three minutes, David Beckham had taken a long-distance free kick which landed in England's 18-yard box and the ball was eventually headed into England's goal after coming off of Carlos Gamarra, who became one of four players to register an own goal at the tournament. Just moments later, goalkeeper Justo Villar was replaced by Aldo Bobadilla in the 8th minute after damaging his leg attempting a sliding clearance. Villar left the field in tears and was subsequently sidelined for the rest of the tournament. Paraguay had started with Roque Santa Cruz and Nelson Haedo Valdez up front and also maintained a strong midfield with Carlos Bonet, Cristian Riveros, Carlos Humberto Paredes and Roberto Acuña, however, England managed to hold onto their 1–0 lead to earn a victory. With Sweden and Trinidad and Tobago having drawn, Paraguay was required to gain at least one point in their next fixture in order to avoid elimination. They then faced Sweden on 15 June in Berlin in a match which was ultimately decided in the 89th minute when Fredrik Ljungberg headed past Aldo Bobadilla, effectively eliminated Paraguay after just two group stage matches without the Albirroja scoring a single goal. Paraguay's only compensation came in their third and last group stage fixture on against Trinidad and Tobago on 20 June. After Brent Sancho had netted an own goal and given Paraguay the lead by half-time, Nelson Cuevas was substituted onto the field in the 66th minute for Nelson Haedo and, with a one-two touch with Roque Santa Cruz, Cuevas was able to score in the 86th minute in Paraguay's 2–0 victory. Paraguay finished in third place of their respective group with three points and a two-two For-and-Against goal difference. Paraguay's group stage elimination made them the only South American national team which did not advance beyond the first round, with Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador making it to the round of 16 stage of the competition. Upon the conclusion of Paraguay's 2006 FIFA World Cup campaign, Aníbal Ruiz resigned as head coach and Raúl Vicente Amarilla was assigned as the interim coach, and Carlos Gamarra, who had participated in his tenth major competition for Paraguay, retired from international football.
Paraguay's national squad underwent a major transition after Germany 2006 because of the retirement of key players such as Carlos Gamarra, Francisco Arce, Celso Ayala, and goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert. Paraguay's under-20 side had won the Milk Cup in 2002, 2003 and 2006, and players such as Nelson Haedo Valdez, Aureliano Torres, Cristian Riveros, Julio dos Santos, José Montiel, Édgar Barreto and Óscar Cardozo were thought key to the re-building of the team. In 2007, Argentine Gerardo "Tata" Martino was designated as head-coach. The former Newell's Old Boys skipper's coaching career had blossomed in Paraguay where he formerly coached Club Libertad and Cerro Porteño.
2007 Copa América
Gerardo Martino took with him a relatively experienced squad to Venezuela, with Darío Verón, Claudio Morel Rodríguez, Carlos Bonet, Julio Manzur, Paulo da Silva, Aureliano Torres, Roque Santa Cruz and captain Julio César Cáceres all re-appearing for the national team, and new comers Enrique Vera, Óscar Cardozo and the Argentine-born Jonathan Santana were appearing for Paraguay in their first major tournaments. The competition also proved to be one of the last national team involvements from veteran Nelson Cuevas. Paraguay were drawn into Group C, alongside Argentina, Colombia, and the USA. In Paraguay's first fixture, they would defeat Colombia 5–0 after a hat-trick from Roque Santa Cruz and a double from Salvador Cabañas. In Paraguay's second fixture against the USA, Édgar Barreto opened the scoring in the 29th minute just before the USA's Ricardo Clark would level the scores in the 35th minute. Paraguay would win the match 3–1 after a goal from Óscar Cardozo and a 92nd minute free kick from Salvador Cabañas would seal the game for the Albirroja. With both Paraguay and Argentina having obtained six points and qualifying from beyond their Group C, the two teams faced in their last group stage fixture with a less strengthened side, Roque Santa Cruz, Édgar Barreto, Cristian RIveros and Paolo da Silva all commencing on the bench as Nelson Cuevas would gain his first appearance of the competition and Aldo Bobadilla would play a full 90-minutes of the fixture, replacing Justo Villar for the second time in the tournament. A 79th minute Javier Mascherano goal was enough to seal a 1–0 victory for Argentina, as Paraguay advanced to the knock-out stages to face Mexico. Mexico had already beaten Brazil in the group stage and had finished in first place of their respective Group B with seven points. After Paraguayan goal keeper Aldo Bobadilla had earned a straight red card in the 3rd minute, Paraguay conceded a penalty in the 5th minute and eventually found them selves down 3–0 at half-time. Mexico would score another three more goals, thrashing Paraguay 6–0 and ending their Copa América campaign.
2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
After a series of friendly matches, Paraguay commencing their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a 0–0 away draw against Peru in October 2007. Four days later, a 14th minute goal from Nelson Haedo Valdez sealed a 1–0 home victory against Uruguay. Haedo Valdez would open the scoring in Paraguay's next match, a 5–1 home victory against Ecuador in November, which saw Cristian Riveros score a double and a goal each from Roque Santa Cruz and Néstor Ayala. In Paraguay's fourth and last World Cup qualifier of 2007, a double from defender Paulo da Silva, who scored both goals with his head from corner kicks, and a goal from Salvador Cabañas earned Paraguay a 3–0 away victory. The victory placed Paraguay in first position of the CONMEBOL table, having conceded just one goal in four matches and having obtained ten points in four matches. Paraguay would eventually remain in first position of the CONMEBOL table for nine consecutive rounds (from round 4 to round 12). In 2008, Paraguay continued preparing for their first World Cup qualification match of that year, playing out five matches by June 2008 (three friendlies and two Kirin Cup matches). On 15 June 2008, Paraguay defeated Brazil 2–0 at home with 10 men. Roque Santa Cruz opened the scoring in the 25th minute, latching on to an Édgar Barreto corner and side footing the ball into the net with his right foot. Dario Verón received his second yellow card of the match in the 47th minute and was subsequently sent off, however, one minute later, Nelson Haedo had played Santa Cruz through and his shot was eventually blocked by Brazil's Júlio César and tapped into the net on the re-bound by Salvador Cabañas who made it 2–0 in the 48th minute. By that stage, Paraguay had conceded just one goal in five rounds. Three days later, Paraguay would lose for the first time in the qualification campaign, in a 4–2 away defeat against Bolivia in La Paz. Paraguay had been trailing 2–0 by half-time when Gerardo Martino made a double substition when he brought on both Roque Santa Cruz and Nelson Haedo Valdez for Salvador Cabañas and Óscar Cardozo in the 62nd minute. Both players managed to score in the second half, however, Bolivia eventually went on to win the match. By September, Paraguay travelled to Buenos Aires to face Argentina on 6 September 2008. In the 14th minute, Nelson Haedo Valdez was played through on goal beside Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze. Argentine goal keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri came out to the on rushing bouncing ball, only for Heinze, who intended to clear the ball, headed the ball into his own net as all three players collided. Carlos Tévez was received his second yellow card in the 30th minute and Argentina were down to ten men. Sergio Agüero leveled the scores in the 61st minute and 1–1 was how it finished. Days later, first half goals from Cristian Riveros and Nelson Haedo Valdez were enough to seal a 2–0 home victory against Venezuela as Paraguay remained in first position of the CONMEBOL table. In October 2008, Paraguay would earn two 1–0 victories against Colombia and Peru. The results keeping Paraguay in first place of the CONMEBOL table as 2008 concluded, having been defeated just once and having conceded just fix goals in the entire qualification campaign. Paraguay's qualification campaign in 2009 commenced with a 2–0 away loss against Uruguay and a 1–1 away draw against Ecuador, which saw Paulo da Silva red carded in the 84th minute and Édgar Benítez leveling the match in the 92nd minute in Quito. By June, Paraguay would suffer a 2–0 home defeat at the hands of Chile, and after having taken a 1–0 lead thanks to a 25th minute Salvador Cabañas free kick, Paraguay were defeated 2–1 away against Brazil. In the last four matches of the qualification campaign, where which three of the four fixtures would be played at home, Cabañas netted a first half penalty to give Paraguay a 1–0 home victory against Bolivia on 5 September 2009. Qualification was secured in the next fixture against Argentina on 9 September, when Salvador Cabañas had gone around three Argentine players and played Nelson Haedo through on goal who scored with a left footed shot in the 27th minute of the first half. By the 52nd minute of the match, Argentine Juan Sebastian Verón received his second yellow card of the match and Paraguay eventually won the fixture 1–0. The win against Argentina, who at the time were coached by Diego Maradona, was Paraguay's second official win over Argentina. In October, Paraguay concluded the qualification campaign with a 2–1 away victory against Venezuela and a 2–0 home loss against Colombia. Paraguay, who would have finished in first place of the CONMEBOL table had they not lost against Colombia, concluded the qualification campaign with 33 points, as Salvador Cabañas finished in sixth position of the leading goal scorers, having scored six goals. With the exception of Round 1, Paraguay were positioned no lower than third on the CONMEBOL table throughout the duration of the entire qualifying campaign.
2010 FIFA World Cup and 2011 Copa America
January 2010 assault on Salvador Cabañas
On January 2010, a tragic head injury suffered in an assault forced Salvador Cabañas to abandon football for an unspecified period of time, which gave him no chance of making the final 23-man squad for South Africa 2010. Cabañas was shot in the head inside the "Bar Bar" night club in Mexico City early 25 January 2010 at 5:00 in the morning. Cabañas received medical attention during the early hours of 25 January 2010. Later on the day he was submitted to a craniotomy but doctors decided that it was too risky to proceed and the bullet was not extracted. According to his wife, he tried to react against a robbery, although this account is disputed by reports that the assault was the result of a taunting incident in the bar's bathroom. Mexican police confirmed that a drug dealer and member of the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel called José Balderas Garza, alias JJ, was the man who shot him. Cabañas left intensive care in late February and was hoping to fully recover in time for the FIFA World Cup 2010 but was not selected for the final Paraguay squad. Doctors dealing with Cabañas have described his recovery so far as "tremendous". However, it is announced he does have short-term memory loss and may not recover for another one to three years. He gave his first interview on 12 March 2010 in appreciation to all the people who prayed for him. In 2013, Cabañas gave his version of the incident which stated that in his opinion the attack occurred so that he would not play at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and that Paraguay would not be crowned champions of the competition.
2010 FIFA World Cup
Prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Lucas Barrios, an Argentine footballers of Paraguay descent, would change his nationality under FIFA regulations in order to represent the Albirroja at the tournament in South Africa. He would join Nestor Ortigoza and Jonathan Santana in being the third Argentine to be selected in Paraguay's 23-man squad for the tournament. Without Salvador Cabañas, Paraguay had played out five friendly matches in preparation for the tournament, with Lucas Barrios impressing up front after scoring in three consecutive matches (against Ireland, Ivory Coast and Greece) out of the five friendlies played. Despite experiment with young players such as Marcelo Estigarribia, who had scored in Paraguay's first 2010 friendly against South Africa on 31 March, and Hernán Pérez, Paraguay had a full strength and experienced side with Roque Santa Cruz, Édgar Barreto, Carlos Bonet, Enrique Vera, Cristian Riveros, Nelson Haedo Valdez and Paulo da Silva, who were the majority of the players that featured in the tournament's qualifying campaign and were believed to have been at the best moment of their football careers. Paraguay had qualified for their fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup tournament, and the 2010 edition proved to be the second tournament for some players, the third consecutive World Cup for Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Bonet Justo Villar and Julio César Caceres, and a record fourth consecutive World Cup for Denis Caniza. The final squad, which consisted of 9 European based players, were expected to advance to at least the round of 16 stage of the competition according to the Paraguayan media, however, defender Antolin Alcaraz believed that Paraguay had what was "required to reach the semi-finals" and Nelson Haedo Valdez also believed that the current generation was the one to go further than Paraguay had ever been before.
Paraguay were drawn into Group F alongside World Champions Italy, Slovakia and New Zealand. Paraguay would face Italy in their opening group stage match and would take a 1–0 lead in the 39th minute thanks to a header from Antolin Alcaraz, who latched on to a free kick to beat Gianluigi Buffon. Paraguay eventually drew 1–1 after conceding a goal in the second half. Paraguay faced Slovakia in their second group stage match and would score in the 27th minute of the first half when Enrique Vera would open the scoring in a run of play counterattack on Slovakia. During the second half, Aureliano Torres would deliver a free kick into Paraguay's attacking 18-yard box, where Cristian Riveros would eventually find him self with the ball after receiving it from a Paulo da Silva header, and score from a 20-yard shot, just out side of the 18-yard box, in the 86th minute of the match to give Paraguay a 2–0 lead and eventual victory. The result placed Paraguay in first place of their respective group, with four points. In Paraguay's last group stage fixture, they would play out a 0–0 draw with New Zealand, and eventually finish in first place of Group F. Paraguay were drawn against Japan, who had finished as runners-up in Group E, at the round of 16 stage. The two sides faced each other at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on 29 June. After 120 minutes, the match was tied at 0–0 and eventually determined via a penalty shoot-out. Édgar Barreto, Lucas Barrios, Cristian Riveros and Nelson Haedo Valdez would score four straight penalties for Paraguay, as Japan's Yūichi Komano failed to convert one of Japan's four spot kicks. Óscar Cardozo, who had been substituted onto the field for Roque Santa Cruz in the 94th minute of the match, then stepped up to slot home Paraguay's fifth penalty to win the shoot out at 5–3. The win meant that Paraguay had advanced beyond the round of 16 for the first time in the national team's history. The Albirroja were drawn against Spain, who had defeated Portugal at the round of 16, at the quarter-final stage of the tournament. The match was played on 3 July at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg in front of 55,359 spectators. Paraguay commenced the match with a strong line up, Nelson Haedo and Oscar Cardozo were partnered up front as Paulo da Silva, Darío Verón, Antolin Alcaraz and Claudio Morel Rodríguez formed a strong defence. The first half, which saw Nelson Haedo score past Iker Casillas but having a goal ruled out for offside, concluded 0–0. The second half saw Oscar Cardozo, who was pulled down by Gerard Piqué in Spain's penalty, fail to convert a penalty for Paraguay in the 59th minute, and four minutes later, Xabi Alonso also failed to convert a penalty for Spain in the 62nd minute, when David Villa was ruled by the referee to have been brought down by Antolín Alcaraz. Xabi Alonso stepped up to take the penalty kick and seemed to have scored, only for the referee to order it be retaken because of encroachment by a Spanish player into the penalty area before the kick was taken. Xabi Alonso's retake was saved by Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar. Paraguay continued to attack when Roque Santa Cruz was subtituted onto the field in the 73rd minute for Nelson Haedo, however, Spain ultimately managed to take the lead in the 83rd minute when David Villa collected a rebounded shot off the post from Pedro, to score himself off the post. The goal turned out to be the winner for Spain in the 1–0 result, who would go on to be crowned as World Champions after defeating Holland 1–0 in the final on 11 July. The quarter-final appearance was recorded Paraguay's best ever performance. After the match, Gerardo Martino stated that he would be leaving his position at the end of his contract.
The Albirroja arrived back from South Africa on Monday 5 July 2010 at 03:30AM. Upon arrival, the entire national team was greeted by over 3,000 fans at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport and were decorated by the then President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo. Gerardo Martino announced that he would take some time to decide his future, although the Paraguayan Football Association had offered him a four year contract to continue. Roque Santa Cruz also announced that the 2010 FIFA World Cup would be his last World Cup, but that he may continue to play one more international tournament which would be the 2011 Copa América held in Argentina. After the tournament, the Albirroja would participate in six friendly matches (including a 7–0 thrashing victory against Hong Kong in November), which would see the national team conclude 2010 on a positive note.
2011 Copa América
The Albirroja participated in seven friendly matches prior to the 2011 Copa América would commence in July, were Paraguay were drawn in to Group B with Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador. Gerardo Martino included with him new players such as Marcos Caceres, Marcelo Estigarribia, Hernán Pérez, Osvaldo Martinez, Pablo Zeballos and Iván Piris, who were all participating in their first major competition at international level. The competition itself being held in Argentina was an advantage to Paraguay, due to the Paraguayan population in the host country. Paraguay would draw their opening group stage match 0–0 with Ecuador before facing the Copa América defending champions Brazil in their second group stage fixture. Paraguay would face Brazil on 9 July at the Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes in Córdoba. After trailing 1–0 at half time, a cross was played through to Roque Santa Cruz from the wing as the striker side footed the equalizer in the 54th minute. Santa Cruz was replaced by Haedo Valdez in the 56th minute, and ten minutes later Haedo Valdez would score for Paraguay, given them a 2–1 lead in the 66th minute. The scores were leveled 2–2 by Fred in the 89th minute, as Paraguay would settle for their second consecutive draw of the tournament. On 13 July, Paraguay played out a 3–3 draw with Venezuela, in a match which saw goals from Antolin Alcaraz, Lucas Barrios and an 85th minute goal from Cristian Riveros, which had Paraguay 3–1 in front. However, Venezuela would score in both the 89th and 92nd minute of the match to draw at 3–3. Paraguay concluded the group stage phase with three points from thee matches, as the group's third place finisher and the competition's second-best third-place finisher in the group stage. Paraguay were drawn against Brazil at the quarter final stages, where the match was played at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata on 17 July. After a 0–0 after 120 minutes, which saw two red cards (to Lucas Leiva and Antolín Alcaraz in the 103rd minute), the match was decided via a penalty shoot out. Brazil failed to convert all of their four spot kicks as Paraguay, who had seen Édgar Barreto miss his spot kick, converted two out of their three penalties, when both Marcelo Estigarribia and Cristian Riveros scored from the spot, to win the penalty shoot out 2–0. Paraguay then faced Venezuela in the semi-final on 20 July. Roque Santa Cruz, who was carrying an injury, had been substituted onto the field in the 73rd minute for Nelson Haedo, but then replaced in the 80th minute for Osvaldo Martínez. Jonathan Santana received his second yellow card of the match in the 102nd minute as the fixture ended 0–0 after extra time. Paraguay eventually won 5–3 via their second consecutive penalty shoot out, which saw Néstor Ortigoza, Lucas Barrios, Cristian Riveros, Osvaldo Martínez and Darío Verón score five out of their five spot kicks to send Paraguay to the 2011 Copa América final.
On 24 July, Paraguay faced Uruguay in the 2011 Copa América final. The fixture was played at River Plate's Estadio Monumental. It would be the first time that Paraguay would reach the final since the 1979 Copa América, which was the year in which they obtained their second Copa América title, as Paraguay had drawn five consecutive matches in order to make the final, without winning a single fixture. Paraguay suffered a difficult first half with Uruguay's Luis Suárez scoring in the 11th minute and Diego Forlán scoring in the 41st minute. Paraguay attacked with Nelson Haedo, who endured a full 90-minutes, playing up front as a center forward. Lucas Barrios, who had also acquired himself an injury, was substituted onto the field for Pablo Zeballos in the 76th minute, but damaged his hamstring in the last moments of the match. The match was decided in the 89th minute when Forlán scored for Uruguay to make it 3–0. Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar was awarded as the Best goalkeeper of the tournament. Roque Santa Cruz played no part in the fixture due to injury. Gerardo Martino resigned soon afterwards as coach of the Albirroja.
2011 and beyond
2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
The 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign proved to be one of the Albirroja's most unsuccessful campaign. Throughout the duration of the qualifiers, Paraguay's coaching position was modified three times in the space of the entire 24-month period. Since the departure of Gerardo Martino, Paraguay weren't able to exceed more than just a fourth place standing on the CONMEBOL table, which was reached in the third round of the qualifiers. From round 4 until round 18 (the final round of matches) Paraguay were placed in seventh position or lower of the table, most notably sitting in bottom position for eight rounds straight (rounds 7 to 14). Francisco Arce departed as coach in 2012, after a 3–1 away loss against Bolivia, and was replaced by Gerardo Pelusso, who eventually departed in 2013 and Paraguay's under-20 team coach Víctor Genes would ultimately be in charge until the qualifiers were concluded.
In round 13, Roque Santa Cruz scored in Paraguay's 2–1 home defeat against Chile on 7 June 2013. The goal brought his tally to 26 which made him the all-time leading goal scorer of the Paraguayan national team's history. Santa Cruz went on to score two more goals (against Bolivia and Argentina) during the qualifiers, and also served as the national team captain for the last four fixtures of the campaign. Paraguay had defeated Bolivia 4–0 at home on 6 September 2013, in a bid to restore hope to at least reaching the play-offs of the qualifiers, however, four days later, a 5–2 defeat against Argentina would officially declare Paraguay's elimination from reaching the top five teams of the CONMEBOL table. Paraguay failed to qualify for a third consecutive FIFA World Cup competition held inside its own continent (having not appeared at the 1962 FIFA World Cup held in Chile and the 1978 FIFA World Cup held in Argentina). The qualification campaign officially proved to be the national team's worst.
Results and Fixtures
Recent and forthcoming matches
Matches from the past 12 months as well as any future scheduled matches.
See also 2013 Paraguay national team results.
See also 2014 Paraguay national team results.
|Friendly February 6, 2013||Paraguay||3 – 0||El Salvador||Asunción, Paraguay|
|Stadium: Estadio Dr. Nicolás Leoz
|2014 WCQ March 22, 2013||Uruguay||1 – 1||Paraguay||Montevideo, Uruguay|
|19:00 UTC-3||Stadium: Estadio Centenario
Referee: Wilmar Roldán
|2014 WCQ March 26, 2013||Ecuador||4 – 1||Paraguay||Quito, Ecuador|
|16:00 UTC-5||Stadium: Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa
Referee: Sandro Ricci
|2014 WCQ June 7, 2013||Paraguay||1 – 2||Chile||Asunción, Paraguay|
Santa Cruz 88'
|Stadium: Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Referee: Leandro Pedro Vuaden
|Friendly August 14, 2013||Germany||3 – 3||Paraguay||Kaiserslautern, Germany|
|18:45 GMT||Gündoğan 18'
Referee: Ivan Bebek
|2014 WCQ September 6, 2013||Paraguay||4 – 0||Bolivia||Asunción, Paraguay|
|18:30 UTC−4||Fabbro 17'
Santa Cruz 47'
|Report||Stadium: Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Referee: Víctor Hugo Carrillo (Peru)
|2014 WCQ September 10, 2013||Paraguay||2 – 5||Argentina||Asunción, Paraguay|
Santa Cruz 85'
| 12' (pen), 52' (pen) Messi
50' Di Maria
|Stadium: Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile)
|2014 WCQ October 11, 2013||Venezuela||1 – 1||Paraguay||San Cristóbal, Venezuela|
|Luis Seijas 82||28' Edgar Benitez||Stadium: Estadio Polideportivo de Pueblo Nuevo
Referee: Victor Carrillo (Peru)
|2014 WCQ October 15, 2013||Paraguay||1 – 2||Colombia||Asunción, Paraguay|
|Jorge Rojas 7'||38', 56' Mario Yepes||Stadium: Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Referee: Diego Abal (Argentina)
|Friendly March 5, 2014||Costa Rica||2 – 1||Paraguay||San José, Costa Rica|
|Report||G. Gómez 85'||Stadium: Estadio Nacional
Referee: Armando Castro (Honduras)
|Friendly May 29, 2014||Cameroon||1 – 2||Paraguay||Kufstein, Austria|
|Choupo-Moting 75'||Report||Romero 4'
Santa Cruz 68'
|Stadium: Kufstein Arena
Referee: Manuel Schüttengruber (Austria)
|Friendly June 1, 2014||France||1 – 1||Paraguay||Nice, France|
|Griezmann 82'||Report||Cáceres 89'||Stadium: Allianz Riviera
Referee: Carlos Clos Gómez (Spain)
|Friendly 3 September 2014||Ukraine||w/o||Paraguay||Kyiv, Ukraine|
|Stadium: Olimpiyskiy Stadium
|Friendly 7 September 2014||United Arab Emirates||v||Paraguay||Villach, Austria|
|Friendly 10 October 2014||South Korea||v||Paraguay||TBA|
|Kirin Challenge Cup 2014 14 November 2014||Japan||v||Paraguay||Toyota, Aichi, Japan|
|Stadium: Toyota Stadium
Win Draw Loss
The following players have received a call-up within the past 12 months:
- RET = Retired from the national team.
- As of 1 June 2014
Players in bold are still active at international level.
World Cup goal scorers
|2002, 2006||Nelson Cuevas||3|
|1986||Julio César Romero||2|
|1958||Jorge Lino Romero||2|
|1958||Juan Bautista Agüero||2|
|2002||Jorge Luis Campos||1|
|2002||Roque Santa Cruz||1|
|1998||Miguel Ángel Benítez||1|
|1950||César López Fretes||1|
|1930||Luis Vargas Peña||1|
Head to head
World Cup record
|FIFA World Cup record|
|1934||Did Not Enter|
|1954||Did Not Qualify|
|1962||Did Not Qualify|
|1986||Round of 16||13th||4||1||2||1||4||6|
|1990||Did Not Qualify|
|1998||Round of 16||14th||4||1||2||1||3||2|
|2002||Round of 16||16th||4||1||1||2||6||7|
|2014||Did Not Qualify|
- *Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
Copa América record
|South American Champions
1953 (First title)
|South American Champions
1979 (Second title)
Paulo da Silva holds the most amount of appearances for the national team with 116 .
Justo Villar participated at three FIFA World Cups and was an important figure during Paraguay's round of 16 match against Japan on 29 June 2010 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when Paraguay defeated Japan 5–3 on penalties to advance to the quarter-finals of a FIFA World Cup competition for the first time in history. He also endured two penalty shoot outs at the 2011 Copa América and was ultimately awarded as the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament as Paraguay reached the final.
José Cardozo is Paraguay's second all-time leading goal scorer with 25 goals. He was present with the national team from 1991 to 2006.
Lucas Barrios became one of three Argentine-born players to represent Paraguay at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
- Paraguay women's national football team
- Paraguay national under-23 football team
- Paraguay national under-20 football team
- Paraguay national under-17 football team
- Paraguay national futsal team
- Football in Paraguay
- World Football Elo Ratings: Paraguay
- After 1988, the tournament has been restricted to squads with no more than 3 players over the age of 23, and these matches are not regarded as part of the national team's record, nor are caps awarded.
- (Spanish) http://www.albirroja.com/history/history2.html
- Southamerican Championship 1953
- Copa América 1979
- (Spanish) http://www.albirroja.com/history/history6.html
- Since 1992, squads for Football at the Summer Olympics have been restricted to three players over the age of 23. The achievements of such teams are not usually included in the statistics of the international team.
- "Veron sees red as Argentina crash again". ESPN. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
- Soccer player who was shot in head out of ICU, The Associated Press, 17-02-2010
- eluniversal.com.mx Cabañas ¿quién? ¿por qué?
- Paraguay striker Cabanas shot in bar attack ESPN.com, 25 January 2010.
- Cabañas leva tiro na cabeça em tentativa de assalto e corre risco de morte Globoesporte.com (Portuguese)
- "Paraguay's Cabanas May Have Dared His Attacker". New York Times. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010.[dead link]
- "Cabañas dijo no recordar nada del incidente sufrido en México". Associated Press. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- "Paraguay - Chile 1:2 (0:1)". FIFA.com. 7 June 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Paraguay - Colombia 1:2 (1:1)". FIFA.com. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Venezuela - Paraguay 1:1 (0:1". FIFA.com. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Paraguay - Argentina 2:5 (1:2)". FIFA.com. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Paraguay - Bolivia 4:0 (1:0)". FIFA.com. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- Robert Mamrud. "Paraguay - Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
- Official site of the Paraguayan Football Association
- RSSSF archive of results 1919–2004
- Planet World Cup archive of results in the World Cup
- Planet World Cup archive of squads in the World Cup
- Planet World Cup archive of results in the World Cup qualifiers
- Paraguayan Football Site