Paraguay’s Santa Cruz, Gonzalez to miss third place play-off vs Peru

Concepcion (Chile), July 2 (IANS) Paraguay will be without Roque Santa Cruz and Derlis Gonzalez when they take on Peru in the third place Copa America play-off match here on Friday.

Legendary forward Santa Cruz was removed from action with a hamstring problem in the first half of his team’s devastating 1-6 semi-final defeat to Argentina, whilst Gonzalez, who scored the equaliser and winning penalty against Brazil in the quarters, was also replaced early on in the encounter after falling awkwardly.

Paraguay are focusing on finishing in the top three in successive Copa Americas following their 2011 final defeat to Uruguay but head coach Ramon Diaz will have to prepare for the upcoming clash without his first choice line-up.

According to Dr. Manuel Aguilar, the Paraguay orthopedic doctor, both players suffered pulled muscles in their right thigh, leaving them unable to take any further part in the competition.

Meanwhile, other members of the national squad must still be assessed before the former River Plate boss knows who he will have available for Friday’s tie with Los Incas.

Another attacker, Nelson Haedo Valdez has a swollen left thigh whilst Cerro Porteño defender Bruno Valdez is also suffering pain in the same area.

However, San Lorenzo’s tough tacking midfielder Nestor Ortigoza is expected to return to full fitness after missing knock-out matches against Brazil and Argentina.

Meanwhile, for Peru, Jefferson Faran is the only doubt after he was witheld from training on Wednesday to rest a sprained right ankle, but he may yet feature on Friday.

Los Incas finished third in the Copa four years ago after star striker Paolo Guerrero hit a trio of goals to beat Venezuela 4-1.

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