The new Paraguay, directed by the Argentine Eduardo Berizzo, debuts this Sunday at CONMEBOL America in Brazil-2019 against Qatar, the Asian champion who arrives at the oldest national team tournament in the world to acquire experience.
“Guaraníes” and “Cataríes” will meet at the mythical Maracaná stadium in Rio de Janeiro from 16:00 local time (19:00 GMT) in a match that completes the first date of Group B, which began on Saturday with the clash between the favorites Argentina and Colombia in Salvador (northeast).
– Long term –
The ‘Toto’ Berizzo already announced that his process is focused on the South American classifications for Qatar-2002, in order to take the Paraguayan national team in a World Cup, after not being able to classify Brazil-2014 and Russia-2018.
“In our near future we have the Copa América, but we can’t stop looking what comes next,” he said.
“The big dream is to take Paraguay back to a World Cup but I think this team can give great satisfaction on the way to Catar,” added Berizzo, 49, who took over as Paraguay’s coach in February this year.
– Everything to learn –
“Playing in the Copa America will be a huge challenge because we’re not used to playing against South American teams, but my players are confident they can do their best,” explained Qatar’s Spanish coach Felix Sanchez recently.
The Asian champion, who will also participate in the 2020 CONMEBOL Copa América, in which Argentina and Colombia, will organize jointly, and by coincidence, will be their next rivals in Brazil-2019. Qatar is coming with the mission of obtaining experience with a squad that is just over 20 years old and that play in the local league facing ‘their’ World Cup in 2022.
“Talking about possible results is not easy”, admits Sanchez, who has led Qatar since July 2017 after replacing the Uruguayan Jorge Fossati.
“We have three very tough rivals, but what I’m sure of is that after that tournament we’ll be a better team,” added the 43-year-old Spanish, who renewed his contract as coach of the national team of Qatar until 2022.
Paraguay: Junior Fernández; Juan Escobar, Fabián Balbuena, Bruno Valdez, Junior Alonso; Matías Rojas, Rodrigo Rojas, Miguel Almirón; Derlis González, Óscar Cardozo and Cecilio Domínguez.
Coach: Eduardo Berizzo.
Qatar: Saab Al Sheeb; Pedro Miguel Correia, Boualem Khoukhi, Tariq Salman, Bassam Husham; Abdulkarim Hassam, Assim Madebo, Abdulaziz Hatim, Hassan Al-Haydos; Akram Afif and Almoez Ali.
Coach: DT: Félix Sánchez.
Referee: Diego Haro (Per.)
Lines: Jonnhy Bossio and Víctor Ráez (Per.).
Stadium: Maracaná in Rio de Janeiro.
Time: 16.00 local (19.00 GMT).