For all the problems facing the senior side, at youth level the Paraguayan national teams are bringing plenty of hope to the nation that the future is full of promise. Earlier this year we reported on the Paraguay U20s who qualified for the U20s World Cup in Turkey by finishing runners-up in the Sudamericano. The U17s have taken the first step in emulating that achievement by qualifying for the final stages of the Sudamericano in their respective age group with minds firmly focussed on the World Cup in United Arab Emirates.
The player everybody was interested in seeing before the tournament was Barcelona’s Antonio ‘Tonny’ Sanabria who has impressed at every age level in his time at La Masia to date. The APF had fought long and hard to have him represent this age group and while Barcelona were unwilling to release him for friendlies (apart from two games in January) they have no choice in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament and Sanabria has been more than happy to represent the country of his birth. He has lived up to expectations scoring twice in the win against hosts Argentina, the second a real peach, before adding to his account against Ecuador today. That triumph over the albiceleste was historic, only once before in 1997 have Paraguay won at this level against their neighbours with Salvador Cabañas getting on the scoresheet on that occassion.
Another player with three goals to his name is 15-year-old Jesus Medina who is one of many products of the excellent conveyer belt at Libertad, he scored a double against Ecuador in the most recent game. Medina, who doesn’t turn 16 until the end of this month, came to the fore during the 2012 Apertura playing in the final game of the tournament against Rubio Ñu and impressing people with some outrageous skills and searing pace. Althoug his mohican haircut did leave a lot to be desired.
The final game is against Venezuela where they will almost certainly secure top spot unless they suffer a heavy defeat. Congratulations to the team and coaching staff – FUERZA PARAGUAY!
RESULTS SO FAR
vs Colombia D 1-1 (Jesus Medina)
vs Argentina W 3-1 (Antonio Sanabria 2, Alex Cáceres)
vs Ecuador W 3-0 (Jesus Medina 2, Antonio Sanabria)