Paraguay vs United Arab Emirates
Stadion Villach Lind, Klagenfurt, Austria
07/09/2014; 12:30 (18:30 CET)
TV: Telefuturo (Paraguay)
Paraguay play their fourth friendly of the year in the Austrian town of Villach where they take on United Arab Emirates. It is their first game against AFC opposition since 2010 when they thrashed Hong Kong 7-0, that day Roque Santa Cruz scored twice and the Malaga striker is set to win his 100th cap for the Albirroja on Sunday. Santa Cruz will become just the 6th player to reach a centenary of Paraguay caps equalling Denis Caniza and Roberto Acuña and he is just three behind goalkeeper Justo Villar. Defenders Carlos Gamarra (110) and Paulo Da Silva (116) are in 2nd and 1st place respectively.
This is Paraguay’s first game against UAE, currently ranked 65th in the world (one place above Ireland) and coached by Mahdi Ali who won the Gulf Cup of Nations last year as they beat Iraq in the final in extra time. They sound like fairly stiff opposition currently on the run of their lives, as Wael Jabir tells me on Twitter “They went unbeaten for 20 games from 2012 – 2014 with a peak FIFA ranking of 58 in February” and there is no doubt who the star player is “Omar Abdulrahman…search his name on YouTube” says Abdulraham Almheiri (so I did) while @aeody has taken to calling him “Maestro Omar Abdulrahman” such is the 21-year-old’s obvious talent.
Of course the current Paraguayan crop have their fair share of exciting attacking talent – Tonny Sanabria of Roma is being groomed for next year’s qualifiers and he is likely to be flanked by FC Basel’s Derlis Gonzalez and Cerro Porteño’s Oscar Romero in a fluid trident behind the target man Roque. In central defence Pablo Aguilar of Club América is looking like the new leader and he could well be handed the armband once Santa Cruz steps aside, he’ll partner youngster Gustavo Gómez again with a view to the qualifiers after the 2015 Copa América. Victor Genes has given Copa Libertadores winner Nestor Ortigoza a 2nd chance, the big man in midfield needs those around him to do the leg work but he will surely find the runs of the flying youngsters like Derlis Gonzalez and Sanabria time and again.
Paraguay XI (possible): Joel Silva; Jorge Moreira, Gustavo Gómez, Pablo Aguilar, Junior Alonso; Víctor Cáceres, Néstor Ortigoza; Derlis Gonzalez, Tonny Sanabria, Óscar Romero; Roque Santa Cruz
Best Bet: I like BTTS knowing that Paraguay are always good for a goal but UAE seem to have a bit of flair themselves and will look to play offensively
Stats and Trivia
Paraguay vs AFC opposition
Pld 33 W 11 D 16 L 6 GF 39 GA 23
Paraguay in Austria
Pld 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 GF 3 GA 1
Paraguay beat Georgia and Cameroon at neutral venues in 2006 and 2014 and played a goalless draw with Austria in Vienna in 2007.
Paraguay last 5
Pld 5 W 1 D 2 L 2 GF 6 GA 7
UAE last 5
Pld 5 W 1 D 3 L 1 GF 6 GA 6
By Ralph Hannah