Paraguay vs Guatemala
Estadio Feliciano Caceres
(1-0) 2-1 – Edgar Benitez ’34, Ariel Bogado (pen) ’70 ; Carlos Ruiz ’82
As predicted in our preview, Paraguay keep purring in friendly games, this time a comfortable 2-1 victory over Guatemala with Chiqui Arce’s side showing excellent football in patches. The game ended Guatemala’s six game winning streak and keeps Paraguay unbeaten in home friendlies since 1999, it also represents a third straight home victory in all competitions.
The cheap tickets and clear skies (despite the threat of a storm) made for an excellent atmosphere in the Feliciano Caceres, the Luqueño public turned out in force to watch the albirroja and were rewarded with an entertaining game. Arce employed a fluid formation alternating seamlessly from a 4-4-1-1 to a 4-3-3 with Edgar ‘Pajaro’ Benitez playing behind Santiago Salcedo or moving wide left to allow Reinaldo Ocampo to push up on the right. It was the pace of Benitez and Ocampo that proved a constant threat during the first half dominated by the home side. Ocampo in particular found plenty of space to run at his full back as Guatemala’s playmaker Pappa stationed himself on the left and wasn’t one for tracking back. The Sol de América midfielder had the best chance of opening the scoring following a break down the left by Benitez, his cross found Ocampo who did everything right but his shot flashed onto the post.
Salcedo was playing as the target man and while very competent in the build up play he was found lacking when it came to finishing, he really should have scored when Thomas Bartomeus low cross from the right found him sliding in at the near post. In the end the first goal came from a similar situation, this time Salcedo the provider. A hopeful long ball was misjudged by Guatemala’s centreback allowing the Cerro Porteño striker to get in behind the defence and cross to his club teammate Benitez for an easy tap in, his third goal in three internationals.
The second half was diluted by substitutions as is the case with these friendly encounters, but there was still several chances for the albirroja. Luis Cardozo, on as a sub for Julio Manzur, hit the post with a header early on and when the ball came back into the box he was unmarked at the back post only to poke his shot into the side netting. The most notable performance of the second half however was from Nacional’s Ariel Bogado who had replaced Benitez. His link up play was excellent, finding space between the midfield and defence to bring in players around him particularly Jorge Mendoza and Eric Ramos who both applied themselves well in midfield. Ariel Bogado got his reward when Ocampo (otherwise absent in the second period) was brought down in area the 69th minute and the 28-year-old converted from the spot, his first international goal.
Guatemala did find a consolation, an ugly defensive mix up between Tobias Vargas and his centre backs saw the ball loop out kindly to Carlos Ruiz who volleyed home as the game ended 2-1. Overall a good performance from Paraguay, they looked to keep possession where they could but had studied their opponents weaknesses and employed more direct measures when necessary. Next up is Panama at La Olla on the 29th of this month.
Paraguay XI (4-4-1-1)
J.Silva; T.Bartomeus, J.Manzur, P.Aguilar, R.Salinas; R.Ocampo, E.Ramos, M.Riveros, J.Mendoza; E.Benitez; S.Salcedo
Subs: L.Cardozo for J.Manzur, A.Bogado for E.Benitez, F.Oviedo for E.Ramos, T.Vargas for J.Silva, J.Rojas for S.Salcedo, E.Orzusa for J.Mendoza
Yellow Cards: S.Salcedo, R.Ocampo
OFF THE RECORD
The future is bright
As a preview to the game the Paraguay U17s side faced the Interligas U17s champions Ovetense (from Coronel Oviedo). A thoroughly fun game to watch with both sides fielding some exciting future talent. Paraguay went into the break two goals up the first from Sol de América’s Cristian Vargas who showed coolness in front of goal to dummy then lift the ball over the keeper. They doubled their lead through Denis Toledo who was set up by Vargas’ cross. The real star of the first half though was Paraguay’s number 10 playing like a classic ‘diez’ behind the strikers, Ismael Reyes has a nice touch, great movement and excellent awareness. It was Ovetenses’s César Giménez who turned the game on its head with two strikes in the second half, one a penalty the other a good finish to end the move he had started. This talented teenager was only denied a hattrick by an good save having jinked past two defenders.
Paraguay U17s XI (4-3-1-2)
M.Mereles; A.Martinez, A.Duarte, D.Marin, J.Sanabria; D.Toledo, C.Garay, R.Tandi; C.Vargas; I.Reyes, A.Benitez
SUBS: J.Samaniego for A.Martinez, J.Merida for A.Benitez, A.Almirón for I.Reyes, M.Durán for C.Vargas, F.Gonzalez for R.Tandi
For more photos from the game taken by Paraguay Football check out this Guatemalan website
Well done APF
Ticket prices for last night’s game started at 5.000 guaraníes or just over US$1.00 – the Paraguayan FA have clearly learned their lesson having charged 8 times as much last winter (European summer) for Paraguay vs Romania which drew a crowd in the hundreds.
Wisecrack of the Week
A very annoying girl who kept screaming at players during the game was put in her place towards the final with a stinging one-liner: “No juega Pipino, Ña Tora – tranquilo nomás”
I love this photo of two brothers, one in his Cerro Porteño shirt and one in his Olimpia shirt at the game last night.
By Ralph Hannah