Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Paraguay pride has grown at Copa America – Aguilar

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Jun 2015

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Pablo Aguilar believes that Paraguay’s stature in South American football has already been raised by their performances at the Copa America 2015.

Under the stewardship of Gerardo Martino, Paraguay were runners-up in Argentina four years ago – losing 3-0 in the final to Uruguay – but failed to build on that and missed out on a place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Ramon Diaz’s Paraguay will face Martino’s Argentina in the semi-finals in Concepcion on Tuesday.

Defender Aguilar, who plies his club trade in Mexico with America, said regardless of the result, they have helped rebuild the previously ailing reputation of their national game.

“I think that this group has put the name of Paraguay up high – we are among the best four,” Aguilar told a news conference.

“Although many did not believe in us we achieved our objectives, are still alive and will continue this way.”

Diaz’s men eliminated Brazil on penalties in their quarter-final, with Aguilar and Bruno Valdez both picking up yellow cards in the process.

Another booking would rule the centre-back out of their next fixture – potentially the final – but he is not concerned.

“In my case I never think about whether I am a booking away from a suspension. I do not think about the next game, I think about the present,” Aguilar added.

“Against Argentina we must go out and play as equals, like we did against Brazil.”

Paraguay and Argentina have already met this tournament, the former coming from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw in La Serena on June 13.

Nelson Haedo Valdez has called upon his team not to repeat their first-half display, while also offering his condolences to team-mate Derlis Gonzalez, whose uncle died from a heart attack after watching their quarter-final win.

“We do not want to suffer like in the first half against Argentina. We must apply pressure and be organised,” he said.

“We have joy [after winning] and sadness at the death of the family member of Derlis Gonzalez, but he knows he has our support.”

Paraguay are aiming to add to their eight Copa final appearances – and two titles – while Argentina are bidding to match Uruguay (15 titles) as the most successful nation in the continental tournament.

In addition to their 14 titles, Argentina have also been runners-up on 12 occasions.

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