Nery PUMPIDO (Arg)
Former goalkeeper best known for winning the 1986 World Cup with Argentina and for suffering a horrific injury at Italia 90. Took over at Olimpia at the start of the year after several seasons coaching Union Santa Fe. Winning the Libertadores has done wonders for his profile in his native land; following Argentina’s World Cup disappointment he was among the many names cited in the press as a future national team coach.
Athletic keeper with good reflexes who was Paraguay’s reserve at France 98. Once seen as a great hope, his career has lost momentum.
Experienced, charismatic keeper who deputised for Jose Luis Chilavert in Paraguay’s 2002 World Cup opener against South Africa and is now his country’s first choice. Stocky figure, an excellent shot stopper but not always so proficient dealing with crosses.
23.03.81. Promising stopper, strong in the air, known as ‘Goose’. A stalwart of Paraguay’s 2001 World Youth Cup side.
Julio Cesar CACERES
Has enjoyed an extraordinary year after the switch from midfield revealed a centre-back whose reading of the game and timing in the tackle are first class. One of the heroes of the Libertadores victory.
Former team captain, the veteran right-back has had few opportunities since Isasi was signed from Guarani. Loyal servantwho should get a place on the bench if only for sentiment’s sake.
Henrique DA SILVA (Bra)
Left-back who spent so long first in Argentina and now Paraguay that he has been forgotten in his native Brazil. Tucks inside to cover Zelaya. Can also push forward.
Solid, stocky defender who is Paraguay’s first-choice right-back. A free-kick specialist whose long-rangeeffort ended Boca Juniors’ reign as Libertadores champions. Juan Ramon JARA 06.08.70. Vastly experienced former international who spent several years in Argentina. Now offers defensive cover, particularly at left-back.
Tall centre-back, commanding in domestic football but who has often struggled to show quality on international duty.
Gaston CORDOBA (Arg)
Left-sided midfielder whose CV includes a season in Serie A with Sampdoria. Perhaps on the lightweight side at the top level, but his left-footed elegance is important to the balance of the team.
Julio Cesar ENCISO
Captain and midfield anchorman whose omission from the 2002 World Cup was highly controversial and hard to justify. Knits the team together with shrewd positioning, sharp tackling and sound passing.
Slight midfielder with a subtle right foot. Was kept out of the side by Orteman during the Libertadores, but could find a place on the right flank if theUruguayan moves into the centre.
Hard-running but limited midfielder, a regular substitute who has come into contention for a first-team place since Victor Quintana and Juan Carlos Franco moved on. Paraguayan international.
Sergio ORTEMAN (Uru)
Deservedly chosen as the player of the Libertadores after a series of rampaging displays down the right side of midfield. Exceptional lung power, fighting spirit and a crashing right foot.
Began as a right-back but has had more opportunities since being converted to a midfielder earlier this year.
Central striker whose long lay-off with bureaucratic problems is a big worry. Has only average ability, but with a wholehearted approach and tactical intelligence is fundamental to the team. Strong enough to play up front on his own, links well and finishes with competence on the ground and in the air. Was in the World Cup squad and unlucky not to get a game.
Gnat-like striker who with his dribbling and powerful snapshots was Paraguay’s most dangerous weapon at France 98. Played most of his career in Spain, then suffered a serious injury and returned home in an unsuccessful bid to force his way into the 2002 World Cup squad. Not the player he was, but will be desperate to rise to the big occasion.
Stocky striker who has been a consistent marksman in domestic football. Neat rather than outstanding, and looks short of pace and confidence at higher levels.
Hernan Rodrigo LOPES (Uru)
Talented Uruguayan, once with Torino, who was signed towards the end of the Libertadores campaign. Came off the bench to play as an attacking midfielder, and his cool head from the penalty spot was crucial in the semi-final and Final shoot-outs.
Left-footed striker who has had a hard climb up through the ranks. Struggles for pace but has plenty of skill.