Paraguay can progress with ‘Panther’

Paraguay believe they possess the firepower to progress from Group F (Paraguay 2/5 To Qualify) thanks to Argentinian-born striker Lucas Barrios, whose citizenship came through in time for him to make the World Cup.

The in-form hitman was born in Argentina and began the 2009-10 season hoping that his goals for Borussia Dortmund would force him into the thoughts of Diego Maradona.

But ‘The Panther’ was always going to be unlikely to force his way into a squad which boasts Carlos Tevez, Diego Milito and Lionel Messi, despite scoring 19 Bundesliga goals in his first season following a move from Chile’s Colo Colo.

Argentina’s loss has become Paraguay’s gain as officials discovered his mother’s Paraguayan origins and sounded him out with the help of Dortmund strike partner Nelson Valdez who also makes the Guarines squad.

He scored on his international debut against Ireland last month after coming on as a substitute and is sure to be on the list of potential targets for several clubs after the tournament (Barrios 80/1 to be Top Golascorer).

Former Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz (also 80/1) adds his experience of the 2002 and 2006 finals to an otherwise lively bunch of forwards which also includes Libertad’s Rodolfo Gamarra, a tricky forward blessed with skill and pace.

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