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The Paraguay national football team is the national team of Paraguaymarker and is controlled by the Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol. The Paraguay national football team has reached the second round of the World Cup on three occasions (in 1986, 1998 and 2002) but has never advanced beyond that stage. Paraguay's only major tournament victories have come in the Copa América, in which they triumphed in 1953 and 1979. They also won a silver medal in the football tournament at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, being defeated 1-0 by Argentina in the final.


The beginning (1900-1930)

Soon after the introduction of football in Paraguay by Williams Paats, the Liga Paraguaya de Futbol (today Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol) was created in 1906. The first national football team was organized in 1910 when an invitation by the Argentine club Hércules of Corrientes was received to play a friendly match. Members of that first nationall team where F. Melián, G. Almeida, A. Rodríguez, M. Barrios, P. Samaniego, J. Morín, Z. Gadea, D. Andreani, C. Mena Porta, B. Villamayor, M. Rojas and E. Erico. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Because of the increasing number of invitations to play matches and international tournaments, the Asociación Paraguaya de Fútbol decided to officially create the national team and select the striped red and white jerseys that until this date remain as the official colours (taken from the Paraguayan flag). In late 1919 Paraguay accepted the invitation to play the 1921 Copa America and in order to prepare for that occasion a number of friendly matches were played between 1919 and the start of the tournament in 1921. The first of those friendly matches was a 5-1 loss against Argentina, and it marked the first international game by the Paraguayan national football team. When the 1921 Copa America finally arrived, Paraguay surprised everybody by beating then three-time South American champions Uruguay by 2-1, being this the first match in an official competition for the Paraguayan football team. Paraguay eventually finished fourth in the tournament and became a regular participant of the tournament for the next editions.

In 1930 Paraguay participated in the first World Cup, organized by Uruguay. In the first round, Paraguay debuted and lost to the United States (0-3), to then defeat Belgium (1-0) with a goal by Luis Vargas Peña. Only one team was to advance from the group stage, and the U.S. left Paraguay behind.

First taste of success (1930-1970)

After good participations in the Copa America tournaments of 1929, 1947 and 1949 (where Paraguay finished in second place), Paraguay was ready for their next World Cup competition.

The return to the World Cup was in 1950, where Paraguay faced Sweden and Italy in Group 3. Paraguay failed to advance to the next round after a 2-2 draw against Sweden and a 2-0 loss against Italy.

The first big success came in 1953 when Paraguay won the Copa America disputed in Perumarker. In their road to the championship, Paraguay defeated Chile (3-0), Bolivia (2-1) and Brazil (2-1); and tied against Ecuador (0-0), Peru (2-2) and Uruguay (2-2). Since Paraguay and Brazil were tied in points at the end of the tournament, a final playoff match was played between them, with Paraguay winning the final by 3-2. Key players of the campaign included Ángel Berni, Heriberto Herrera and Rubén Fernández. The coach was Manuel Fleitas Solich.

For the 1958 World Cup, Paraguay surprisingly qualified ahead of Uruguay (beating them 5-0 in the decisive game) with a team that contained a formidable attacking lineup with stars such as Juan Bautista Agüero, José Parodi, Juan Romero, Cayetano Ré and Florencio Amarilla. In their first game in Sweden, Paraguay were 3-2 up against France in a game they lost 7-3. A 3-2 win over Scotland and a 3-3 draw with Yugoslavia saw Paraguay finish third in their group.

The departure of several of their stars for European football (mainly Spainmarker) resulted in a weakening of Paraguay's football fortunes somewhat, but they were only edged out by Mexico in the 1962 qualifiers.

More continental success (1970-1990)

Paraguay fell short in subsequent World Cup qualifying campaigns, but Copa América success (and that of one of its premier clubs Olimpia in the Copa Libertadores) in 1979 shored up Paraguay as a solid player on the continent.

The 1979 Copa América was won by Paraguay after finishing first in Group C (which had Uruguay and Ecuador as well) with two wins and two draws. In the semi-finals Paraguay defeated Brazil by an aggregate score of 4-3. In the finals, Paraguay defeated Chile by an aggregate score of 3-1 to claim its second continental crown. Players such as Julio Cesar Romero (Romerito), Carlos Alberto Kiese, Alicio Solalinde, Roberto Paredes, Hugo Ricardo Talavera and Eugenio Morel where an important part of the team, coached by Ranulfo Miranda.

Paraguay ended a 28-year absence from the World Cup in 1986 with a team starring Roberto Fernández in goal; Cesar Zavala, Rogelio Delgado and Juan Bautista Torales in defense; Jorge Amado Nunes and Vladimiro Schettina in midfield; midfield playmaker Romerito and strikers Roberto Cabañas, Ramon Angel Maria Hicks and Rolando Chilavert (older brother of José Luis Chilavert). In first round matches, Paraguay defeated Iraq (1-0, goal Romerito) and then tied Mexico (1-1, goal Romerito) and Belgium (2-2, both goals Roberto Cabañas). They reached the second round where they were beaten 3-0 by England.

The golden generation (1990-2006)

A drought followed once again, as Paraguay failed to reach Italy 1990 and U.S. 1994 World Cups.

In 1992, Paraguay won the South American Pre-Olympic tournament, which guaranteed a spot in the 1992 Summer Olympics football competition. In the Olympics, Paraguay finished second in its group and were eliminated by Ghana in the quarterfinals. The most important aspect of that Paraguay team was the emergence of new young players like Carlos Gamarra, Celso Ayala, José Luis Chilavert, Francisco Arce and José Cardozo, which became part of the "golden generation" that led Paraguay to three straight World Cups and good performances in continental competitions, establishing Paraguay as one of the top teams in South America along Brazil and Argentina.

This new generation of players helped end the World Cup drought in grand fashion, as the Albirroja reached the France 1998 World Cup by qualifying in second place in South America behind Argentina. The first round matches were against Bulgaria (0-0), Spain (0-0), and Nigeria (3-1; goals Celso Ayala, Miguel Ángel Benítez and José Cardozo). Paraguay qualified to the second round (Round of 16) to be defeated in a thrilling match against would-be World Champions France. France only scored through Laurent Blanc in the 114th minute, during the second half of overtime (making it the first golden goal scored in a World Cup). Paraguay's central defending duo (Carlos Gamarra and Celso Ayala) and goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert were selected for the all-star World Cup team.

Paraguay returned to the World’s greatest stage once more in the 2002 World Cup. In their first match, Paraguay tied South Africa 2-2 (goals: Roque Santa Cruz and Francisco Arce). Paraguay lost to Spain in the second game (1-3) and finally defeated Slovenia (3-1; goals Nelson Cuevas, twice, and Jorge Luis Campos) to qualify for the second round. Germany ended Paraguay’s dreams in the World Cup with an 88 minute goal.

In 2006, Paraguay qualified for its third World Cup in a row. This time, two early defeats against England and Sweden (both 0-1) sent the team home early. The only consolation was defeating Trinidad and Tobago during the last and final group game by 2-0.

The Present

After the 2006 World Cup, Aníbal Ruiz resigned as head coach and Raúl Vicente Amarilla was assigned as the interim coach. In 2007, Argentine Gerardo "Tata" Martino was designated as head-coach. The former Newell's Old Boys (Rosario, Argentina) skipper's coaching career had blossomed in Paraguay where he formerly coached Libertad and Cerro Porteño. He was a clear and logical choice for the Paraguayan FA.

Paraguay's current squad is undergoing a transition because of the retirement of key players such as Carlos Gamarra, Francisco Arce, Celso Ayala, and goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert. Paraguay's under-19 side won the Milk Cup in 2002, 2003 and 2006, and players such as Nelson Haedo Valdez, Julio dos Santos, José Montiel and Óscar Cardozo are thought key to the re-building of the team.

The renovated squad created quite a stir by reaching first place in the CONMEBOL qualifiers, and becoming the second CONMEBOL team to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, ahead of continental powers Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. Paraguay defeated Brazil at home (2-0), defeated Chile and Colombia away (0-3 and 0-1), and tied Argentina in the mythical Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires. Key players have been Justo Villar in goal, Claudio Morel, Paulo Da Silva, Julio C. Caceres in defense, Edgar Barreto, Jonathan Santana, Enrique Vera and Christian Riveros in midfield, and Roque Santa Cruz, Salvador Cabañas and Nelson Haedo Valdez up front. Qualification was secured with a 1-0 win over Diego Maradona's Argentina on 9 September 2009.

Tournament records

World Cup record

World Cup record
Host nation(s) / Year Round Position GP W D* L GS GA
1930 Round 1 9 2 1 0 1 1 2
1934 Did not enter - - - - - - -
1938 Did not enter - - - - - - -
1950 Round 1 11 2 0 1 1 2 4
1954 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1958 Round 1 12 3 1 1 1 9 12
1962 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1966 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1970 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1974 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1978 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1982 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1986 Round of 16 13 4 1 2 1 4 6
1990 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1994 Did not qualify - - - - - - -
1998 Round of 16 14 4 1 2 1 3 2
2002 Round of 16 16 4 1 1 2 6 7
2006 Round 1 18 3 1 0 2 2 2
2010 Qualified - - - - - - -
Total 8/19 22 6 7 9 27 36
*Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.

Olympic Games record

  • 1992 - Quarterfinals
  • 2004 - Silver Medal (Second place)

Copa América record


Pan American Games record

Most Paraguay caps

Player Paraguay career Caps (Goals)
Carlos Gamarra 1993-2006 110 (12)
Roberto Acuña 1993-2006 97 (5)
Denis Caniza 1996-present 90 (1)
Celso Ayala 1993-2003 85 (6)
José Saturnino Cardozo 1991-2006 82 (25)
Roberto Fernández 1976-1989 78 (0)
Juan Bautista Torales 1979-1989 77 (1)
José Luis Chilavert 1989-2003 74 (8)
Estanislao Struway 1991-2002 74 (4)
Carlos Humberto Paredes 1998-present 74 (10)
Julio César Enciso 1995-2004 70 (2)

Top Paraguay goalscorers

Player Paraguay career Goals (Caps)
José Saturnino Cardozo 1991-2006 25 (82)
Roque Santa Cruz 1999-present 20 (61)
Saturnino Arrúa 1969-1980 13 (26)
Julio César Romero 1979-1986 13 (32)
Gerardo Rivas 1921-1926 12 (32)
Carlos Gamarra 1993-2006 12 (110)
Miguel Ángel Benítez 1996-1999 11 (29)
Juan Bautista Villalba 1945-1947 10 (22)
Aurelio González 1924-1937 10 (23)
Carlos Humberto Paredes 1998-present 10 (72)

Current team status

Paraguay have qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup following a 1-0 win over Argentina on September 9, 2009.

2010 FIFA World Cup

Qualification Standings

Recent, last and next games

KEY: F = Friendly match

Current squad

The following players were called for the World Cup qualifying matches against Venezuela and Colombia.

Recent call ups

The following players have been called up for the team in the last 12 months.

See also


  2. Southamerican Championship 1953
  3. Copa América 1979
  5. "La Albirroja tiene su última lista en Eliminatorias para Mundial Sudáfrica 2010" APF.

External links


DOB (Age)
Caps (goals)
Most Recent Call up
Julio Manzur Tigre 26 (0) vs , June 10, 2009 (WCQ).
Pedro Benítez Atletico Mineiromarker 10 (1) vs , June 10, 2009 (WCQ).
Claudio Morel Rodríguez Boca Juniors 40 (0) vs , September 9, 2009 (WCQ).
Sergio Aquino Libertad 7 (0) vs , June 10, 2009 (WCQ).
Marcelo Estigarribia Le Mans 5 (0) vs , March 23, 2009 (WCQ).
Rodrigo Burgos Cerro Porteño 1 (0) vs , March 23, 2009 (WCQ).
Édgar Barreto Atalanta 47 (2) vs , September 9, 2009 (WCQ).
Fredy Bareiro Estudiantes Tecos 18 (2) vs , June 10, 2009 (WCQ).

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