Perfect Paraguay adds half a dozen points
In a close game in Asunción, Paraguay defeats Peru 1-0 and once again stretches its lead to 23 points.
We are so close to South Africa we can see the giraffes!
The excitement and happiness generated by the Albirroja is completely unprecedented. For example, recently elected president Fernando Lugo gave all government employees half the day off to enjoy the Albirroja fever.
Also, the national team’s base camp is in Ypane, about 35km from the “Defensores del Chaco” stadium. Traditionally, people will crowd the streets waiting for the bus with the Albirroja to go by, in the midst of cheers and flag-waving. Yesterday, it took the national team 90 minutes to get from Ypane to the stadium, precisely because of the fans in the streets cheering them on!
Coach Martino played:
Villar; Bonet, Caceres, Da Silva, Morel Rodriguez; V.Caceres, Riveros, Barreto, Santana; Haedo and Cabanas.
Morel came back to his usual position alter recovering from an injury, but the regular Enrique Vera sacrificed his position to Jonathan Santana. To me, this was a surprising change. I think that Vera gives our football more volume in the midfield.
The first half was pretty bad. Peru had possession of the ball and the match was tangled in the midfield. In the first half Peru was closer to scoring than Paraguay.
But everything changed in the 2nd half. First, Martino took Barreto off and put on a domestic juvenile player from Libertad, Osvaldo Martinez. This was Martinez’s international debut with the Albirroja. He is a midfielder, whose job was to try to get the ball to our strikers. If this substitution wasn’t surprising enough, half way through the second half Martino pulled out Haedo and Santana, for “Tacuara” Cardozo and Edgar “Pajaro” Benitez.
(Photo: President Lugo riding the wave at the end of the line: grey hair, wearing the Albirroja)
“Tacuara” has been severely criticized for his poor previous performances, and Benitez is another domestic juvenile from Sol de America who was only called due to Roque’s absence! Like Martinez, Benitez was also making his international debut!
As I saw it, Martino took off a midfielder for two strikers, and I had no idea how the ball was going to get to the forwards. It was surprising because Martino practically left Paraguay’s fate in the hands of a poor performing player, and two brand new guys, very risky!
The risk paid off in full. After the substitutions Paraguay went into winning mode and overpowered Peru. Our goal came after a series back and forth shots in the Peruvian penalty area that ended with “Tacuara” winning an offensive position, dominating the ball, and beginning a striking motion. It is not clear who scored, since as “Tacuara” began to kick the ball, the new guy “Pajaro” Benitez, came out of nowhere and took a swipe at the ball too. As it turns out, they both seem to have felt the ball in that play.
FIFA and the international press attributed the goal to the “Pajaro” Benitez. The Paraguayan press gave the goal to “Tacuara” Cardozo. On top of that, both players claimed credit for the goal in post game interviews!
Finally, this morning Benitez conceded that it was Tacuara’s goal, but what a debut for Benitez!
And what great substitutions!
See the goal below….
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