Paraguay Prepares to Face Colombia in South American Qualifiers
On April 2, 1997, the Paraguayan national team, known as Albirroja, achieved a remarkable victory against Colombia. Led by Brazilian coach Paulo César Carpegiani, Paraguay won the match 2-1 in a thrilling encounter that saw the expulsion of Guarani goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert and Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla.
Garnero’s Vision for Paraguay’s Improvement
Now, twenty-six years later, Argentine coach Daniel Garnero believes that his team has embraced his coaching philosophy and is ready to demonstrate their progress in the South American qualifiers. Garnero, who has been in charge for 40 days, will lead Paraguay against Colombia at the Defensores del Chaco stadium. His tenure began with a 1-0 loss to Argentina on October 12.
“Against Colombia, we won’t focus on any specific player because we need to be attentive to all our opponents. Players like Díaz can make an impact with limited opportunities, so our strategy should be to prevent Luis from having his best day,” emphasized the 54-year-old coach, born in Lomas de Zamora.
A History of Challenges for Paraguay
Since their victory over Colombia, Paraguay has faced numerous challenges. In the past 27 years, they have suffered five defeats and managed only one draw against Colombia in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Currently, Paraguay occupies the seventh position in the standings with 5 points out of a possible 15, while Colombia sits in third place with 9 points. Colombia’s recent victory over Brazil, with an outstanding performance by ‘Lucho’ Díaz, has boosted their confidence for the upcoming match.
Colombia’s Absences and New Additions
Colombia will face Paraguay without center back Davinson Sánchez, who is suspended due to accumulating two yellow cards. Additionally, left back Deiver Machado will miss the game due to an injury.
To compensate for these absences, Argentine coach Néstor Lorenzo will promote Carlos Cuesta from Belgian Genk to replace Sánchez, and Cristian Borja from Portuguese Sporting Braga. Another significant change will be the return of Fluminense midfielder Jhon Arias, who served a suspension in the last match against Brazil.
Furthermore, the expulsion of right back Robert Rojas during the previous match against Chile will lead Garnero to debut the Argentine nationalized Paraguayan Juan José Cáceres, who currently plays for Lanús.
In the midfield, Richard Sánchez will replace Diego Gomez.
Focus and Determination for Colombia
Former Colombian defender and assistant coach Néstor Lorenzo Luis Amaranto Perea emphasized the importance of maintaining focus and determination for the upcoming match against Paraguay. He stated, “The players understand that the euphoria and joy from the victory over Brazil have passed. If we want to continue progressing, we know that this match will be far from easy.”
Perea also highlighted the need to improve concentration in the early minutes of the game, as Paraguay will come out with pressure and intensity.
Out of the ten teams competing in the South American qualifiers, six will secure direct qualification for the World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The seventh-placed team will have a chance to compete in a playoff for an additional spot among the 48 teams participating in the 2026 World Cup.
Paraguay: Carlos Coronel; Juan José Cáceres, Gustavo Gómez, Omar Alderete, Matías Espinoza; Matías Rojas, Mathías Villasanti, Andrés Cubas, Richard Sánchez or Alejandro Romero Gamarra; Gabriel Ávalos and Antonio Sanabria. Coach: Daniel Garnero
Colombia: Camilo Vargas; Daniel Muñoz, John Lucumí, Carlos Cuesta, Cristian Borja; John Arias, Mateus Uribe, Kevin Castaño; Luis Díaz, James Rodríguez, and Rafael Santos Borré. Coach: Néstor Lorenzo
Referee: Venezuelan Jesús Valenzuela
Stadium: Defenders of the Chaco
Time: 8:00 PM local time (11:00 PM GMT)