‘Paraguay’s footballing reputation has been restored’

Concepcion (Chile), June 29 (IANS) Defender Pablo Aguilar believes Paraguay’s stature in South American football has already been raised by their performances at the ongoing Copa America.

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

Paraguay will face Argentina in the semi-finals on Tuesday here.

The defender stated that regardless of the result in that match, they have helped rebuild their previously ailing reputation.

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

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

Ramon Diaz’s men eliminated Brazil on penalties in their quarter-final clash, 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 and is focused on giving Argentina a difficult challenge.

“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,” he added.

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

Paraguay played against Argentina in their first clash in the group stage, coming from two goals down in the second half to earn a point in a 2-2 draw in La Serena earlier in the competition.

Striker Nelson Haedo Valdez has called upon his team not to repeat their display from the first period in that match, while also offering his condolences to team-mate Derlis Gonzalez, whose uncle died in the stands during their clash with Brazil.

“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 and sadness at the death of the family member of Derlis Gonzalez, but he knows he has our support.”

The winner of the clash will earn a place in the final at the Estadio Nacional stadium in Santiago on July 4, while the loser will remain here to contest the third-place play-off.

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