A quick run through of my favourite five highlights in Paraguayan football this year. Leave your favourites in the comments section below.
5. Maurito Caballero announces arrival vs Alianza Lima
In 2011 it was Juan Iturbe for Cerro vs Colo Colo but this year we saw an amazing display from then 17-year-old Maurito Caballero in Libertad’s Libertadores opener against Alianza Lima. The Paraguayans were trailing when Caballero came on as a subsitute and he tormented the Peruvians, his shot forcing the equaliser before winning a penalty and scoring a goal himself in what turned into a 4-1 rout. Let’s hope he can finalize his move to Porto in 2013.
4. Rodolfo Gamarra’s winner in the rain
The best league game of the year in my opinion, Cerro Porteño were at the very top of the game as they looked to take the Apertura title while Burruchaga’ s Libertad had all his stars rested following their Copa Libertadores defeat. The game was played at a tremendous pace not usually attributed to Paraguayan football and with the game locked at 1-1 and about 15 minutes to go the heavens opened and a storm began. The dramatic weather was matched by the finale, almost the last kick of the game and winger Rodolfo Gamarra raced through to net the winner for Libertad before whipping his shirt off and aquiring an umbrella for his celebration.
3. Cabañas’ comeback
On April 14th the only man to finish topscorer in two consecutive Copa Libertadores, the man who took Paraguay to South Africa with his goals, finally returned to football 27 months after being shot in the head and left for dead in a Mexico City bar. Salvador Cabañas came on for the final minutes of 12 de Octubre’s first game of the season and would make several cameo apperances as they won the Paraguayan third division. Unfortunately he isn’t at the same level as before and we are yet to see a Cabañas goal, something for 2013?
2. Olimpia’s 12 minutes of madness in Rio
With 75 minutes on the clock Olimpia were trailing 3-0 to Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro, Ronaldinho was strutting his stuff as if he was still in the blue and red of Barcelona. A Pablo Zeballos freekick was the flicker of hope that sparked into life eight minutes later as his strike partner Luis Nery Caballero drilled in a left foot shot. Yet another memorable Libertadores night for El Decano was completed just two minutes from time when the Colombian Vladimir Marin equalised. It was vintage Olimpia and although they didn’t get out of the group stages, those 12 minutes evoked memories of 1979, 1990 and 2002.
1. Jonathan Fabbro’s freekick vs Olimpia to seal Apertura title
Admittedly this won’t please everybody but the poignancy of the moment can’t be overstated. The best player in the league scores a trademark freekick to win the league for his club in their centenary year. The goal put Cerro Porteño 2-0 up in the superclásico which was also the final match of the Apertura season, it ended in the team’s 9th victory in the final 11 games a run which saw them overhaul Olimpia at the top of the table.