FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 Group B: All you need to know about Team Paraguay

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Merely five days into our assessment of the competing sides for the World title and already we have come across some serious contenders rich in their football culture, style and heritage, some will be here to make a statement whereas some will be coming at the back of some rich vein of form. Well Group A is done and dusted as of now and today our focal point of analysis is Group B which consists of Paraguay, Mali, New Zealand and Turkey. At Lntup.com we will try to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the first team from this group, the U-17 national team of Paraguay, find out what the country has to offer this October and whether the likes of Nelson Valdez, Santa Cruz can be reborn in the country through this gigantic platform.

Relevant squad info and much more

Nickname: Los Guaranies
Association: Asociacion Paraguaya de Futbol
Confederation: CONMEBOL (South America)
Head Coach: Gerardo Gonzalez Aquino
Home Stadium: Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Under 17 World Cup appearances: 4 (first in 1999)
Best result: Quarterfinals 1999

FIFA U-17 World Cup record and their past laurels

As mentioned above they haven’t tasted much success in this tournament so far going past the qualifying stages merely three times before, thus not providing us enough to talk about their previous feats and performances. The only notable achievement was that of 1999 which was their first stint at this competition and to everyone’s surprise, the Paraguayan U-17 side reached the knock out stages eventually crashing out in the quarter-finals. Since then the story has been pretty sorry, to say the least.

Just four participations in close to two decades that too in a competition being organised every two years is quite disappointing for this Latin American nation who have always turned out to be dark horses from this continent. After New Zealand 1999 (where they finished fifth) they have never been able to go past the group stages (getting knocked out both times in the subsequent editions of Trinidad & Tobago 2001 and Chile 2015).

Road to India and brief description of their journey

Paraguay secured their birth to the World Cup thanks to their third place finish in this year’s U-17 South American Championship. Two wins and two draws sailed them off smoothly to the round of 16 stages being the second team from group B behind Brazil to qualify for the knockout phase where they drew with Ecuador 2-2 and kept on sailing past the likes of Chile (2-0) and Venezuela (3-1). Registering much-needed wins against arguably stronger opposition ensured their ticket to India this October with one game to spare.

They eventually ran out of this purple patch and was beaten by Colombia (2-1) in a well-contested clash. Interestingly enough Paraguay has always been a side filled with lots of promise but failed to deliver at the World stages earning them the tag of underachievers for all the wrong reasons. Whether this time round they can turn things in their favour, we will try to pick up a hint of what this side has to offer in the upcoming competition.

Head Coach and his preferred style of display

A tidy midfielder himself in his heydey, the Paraguayan Gerardo Gonzalez Aquino relished a 15-year long career that forced him to move from his homeland to the neighbouring countries like Colombia and Argentina. At the international level, he had represented Los Guaranies at both the FIFA U-20 World Cup Malaysia 1997 and 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan.

After hanging up his boots Gonzalez made his coaching debut in 2012 and since then he had been immensely involved with the national side’s different youth outfits (he coached the U-20 national team as well) before being appointed as the head coach of the U-17 side back in August 2016. He generally prefers to play the modern day style of a 4-2-3-1 formation with two sitting midfielders as an extra buffer to the defence and playing counter attacking game.

Star players most likely to catch the eye

With an incredible stat of 1.77 goals (that is close to 2 goals) per game coming to the World Cup and as many as 16 goals in the qualifiers (only second to Brazil) clearly exhibit their attacking firepower which other teams must take note of. Paraguay were the only team to have scored against A Selecao (as Brazil popularly known) during the tournament, a feat they managed on three occasions. The likes of Fernando Cardozo (forward), Nicolas Morinigo (forward) and Ramon Zarate (forward) generally do the bulk of the damage, sharing between them 12 of the 16 goals Paraguay scored during the qualifiers.

They receive able to support in the form of Blas Armoa (Right Winger), Julio Baez (Midfielder) and Martin Sanchez (Left winger) and all of these three should be kept a close watch. So the prodigies carry the ambitions, aspirations and hopes of an entire nation on their young shoulders and to live up to that is going to be an uphill task and calls for a hell lot of courage and maturity.

Author’s take on Team Paraguay

To be very frank Paraguay should cruise through to the knockout stages with ease, barring Mali no other side from this group seems to give them any sort of hiccup. However, football is an unpredictable sport and considering the way they have fared in this competition earlier as well the possibility of this team collapsing once again cannot be thrown out the window.

Being a football admirer I would definitely like to wish this team making much much deeper progress as the competition goes on, and reach its latter stages such that we all can cherish this feast to our heart’s content. March on Team Paraguay on your way to glory and get the label of “underachievers” off your back. Best of luck.