ASUNCION, May 15 – Paraguay have been forced to name an injury-weakened side for their 2014 World Cup qualifier at Bolivia next month.
Benfica striker Oscar Cardozo, the joint leading scorer in the Portuguese league this season, was the most notable absentee along with Roque Santa Cruz.
Midfielders Edgar Barreto and Dario Veron and defender Antolin Alcaraz were also left out due to injury, while Borussia Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios and Juventus midfielder Marcelo Estigarribia were surprisingly overlooked by coach Francisco Arce (picture).
The coach said most of the squad would travel to La Paz on Thursday to adapt to the high altitude ahead of the June 9 tie.
The Hernando Siles stadium is the world’s highest international venue at 3,600 metres above sea level and Arce said his team selection would depend on who adapted best to the unusual conditions.
Paraguay, World Cup quarter-finalists in South Africa two years ago, have made a sluggish start to the 2014 campaign with only four points from their opening four games and are seventh in the nine-team table.
However, they are only three points behind leading trio Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela.
Bolivia prop up the table with only one point.
Goalkeepers: Justo Villar (Estudiantes), Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteno), Antony Silva (Deportes Tolima), Joel Silva (Guarani)
Defenders: Ricardo Mazzacote (Nacional-Asuncion), Tomas Bartomeus (Guarani), Aureliano Torres (Toluca), Elvis Marecos (Guarani), Paulo Da Silva (Real Zaragoza), Adalberto Roman (Palmeiras), Julio Manzur (Guaraní), Luis Cardozo (Cerro Porteno)
Midfielders: Jorge Nunez (Once Caldas), Hernan Perez (Villarreal), Marcos Riveros (Nacional-Asuncion), Fidencio Oviedo (Cerro Porteno), Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor), Eric Ramos (Rubio Nu), Jorge Mendoza (Guarani), Eduardo Aranda (Olimpia) Osvaldo Martínez (Atlante)
Forwards: Nelson Haedo (Rubin Kazan), Pablo Zeballos (Olimpia), Edgar Benitez (Cerro Porteno), Jose Ortigoza (Sol de America), Lorenzo Melgarejo (Pacos de Ferreira), Luis Caballero (Olimpia) (Reporting by Daniela Desantis) – Reuters