Paraguay Qualifies For South Africa-2010 And Argentina Hits Bottom

By Dialogo
September 14, 2009

Paraguay became the second South American country to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 with a 1-0 victory over an Argentine team that, coached by Diego Maradona, hit bottom in Asunción and dropped into wild-card range. Another team that did very well on the sixteenth day for qualifying-round games was Ecuador, which defeated Bolivia 3-1 as the visiting team in La Paz and moved up to fourth in the standings. Meanwhile, Chile lost its opportunity to qualify early by falling to Brazil 4-2 in Salvador (the capital of Bahia state, in northeastern Brazil). At the end of the day, Brazil, which has already qualified, was at the head of the standings with 33 points, followed by Paraguay, also qualified, with 30, Chile (27), Ecuador (23), Argentina (22), Uruguay (21), Venezuela (21), Colombia (20), Bolivia (12), and Peru (10). The top four South American teams will qualify directly, and the fifth-place finisher will have the opportunity to compete for a wild-card slot against the fourth-place CONCACAF team. In Defensores de Chaco Stadium, in Asunción, Paraguay showed off a practical and effective game, beat Argentina by the minimum score, and got on board the World Cup train. The only goal was scored by striker Nelson Haedo Valdez twenty-seven minutes into the match. With this result the Guaraní reached thirty points, while Argentina dropped into wild-card range. With a lifeless Lionel Messi and a very weak defense, Maradona’s team strolled through Defensores de Chaco and ended up turning to their center as a weapon to equalize the affair, after losing midfielder Juan Sebastían Verón to a double caution. “We’re still not out of the World Cup. We still have a good shot,” Maradona told the press, discounting their questions as he affirmed that “I’m not afraid of criticism. I’m not afraid of anyone. I do my work, I’ve got my team, and I’m going to continue moving forward. I’m not afraid of you.” In Salvador, playing at home and with a decimated team, Brazil beat Chile 4-2 and prevented the Chileans from qualifying early. The Brazilian goals were scored by Nilmar (31, 73, 75) and Julio Baptista (40), while Humberto Suazo scored for Chile (45+1 on a penalty kick and 52). The eleven coached by Argentine Marcelo Bielsa needed a win to earn a ticket to the World Cup and will now have to wait until October, when it will confront Colombia and Ecuador in the final matches of the qualifying round. In the day’s first match, Ecuador rose to the occasion and beat Bolivia 3-1 in Hernando Siles Stadium in La Paz (3,600 meters). The goals were scored by Edison Méndez (4), Antonio Valencia (46), and Cristian Benítez (56), while Gerardo Yacerote scored for home team eighty-six minutes in. The win allowed the Ecuadoreans to move up to fourth place in the standings. “I feel very confident, although we still haven’t won anything, we’re still in the fight,” the manager of the Ecuadorean team, Sixto Vizuete, said in reference to the win. In the second matchup, Uruguay beat Colombia 3-1 in Centenario Stadium in Montevideo. The triumph gave some breathing room to the team wearing sky blue, which climbed into sixth place, although they are still in a very difficult position, and left Colombia in an even more delicate situation. Luis Suárez, a striker for the Netherlands’ Ajax, Andrés Scotti, a defender for Argentinos Juniors, and Sebastián Eguren, a midfielder for Spain’s Villareal, scored the Uruguayan goals six, seventy-six, and eighty-seven minutes in, respectively, while forward Jackson Martínez (Independiente Medellín) temporarily tied the game sixty-four minutes in. “From the perspective of our state of mind, the group rose to the occasion. This was soccer, a fighting spirit, and commitment (...),” in the summary of Washington Tabárez, the sky-blue team’s coach. Referring to the situation in which Colombia was left, his counterpart, Eduardo Lara, admitted that “we did some careless things and surrendered control of the game,” and he indicated that in any case, “hope is what we give up last in this life.” Another team that can keep dreaming, with two game days left to end the qualifying round, is Venezuela, which beat Peru 3-1 in Puerto La Cruz. The eleven wearing wine red benefited from goals by Nicolás Fedor (33 and 52) and Ronald Vargas (70). Their Peruvian opponents countered with one goal by Juan Fuenmayor (41). The South American qualifying round will end in October, when the final matches will be played on the 10th and the 14th with several teams in a position to stamp their passports. On 10 October Venezuela will host Paraguay, Ecuador will host Uruguay, Colombia will host Chile, Bolivia will host Brazil, and Argentina will host Peru. The curtain will come down on the 14th when Bolivia will visit Peru, Argentina will visit Uruguay, Colombia will visit Paraguay, Venezuela will visit Brazil, and Ecuador will visit Chile.