Paraguay will take on first-time participants Qatar in their opening match of the Copa America.
As they are the hosts of the next FIFA World Cup, Qatar has been granted entry to this year’s Copa America. They will become the first Arab country to participate in the competition in the process. CONMEBOL confirmed that Qatar was included due to its close ties with the Asian Football Federation. Japan is the other Asian country which will take part in this year’s Copa America. But don’t think that Qatar doesn’t have a punch within them.
They surprised many in their successful Asian Cup tournament earlier this year. Qatar defeated Japan in the final to clinch the title in February. They were hugely impressive in the competition and won every game. Qatar did not concede a single goal until the last when Japan managed to score one. They are new to the Copa America spectacle, but they are not a minnow side.Embed from Getty Images
Almoez Ali is their star striker, and his goals will be necessary for Qatar. Attacking midfielder Abdulaziz Hatem is also a crucial player for the Asian side. The quality of the teams they will come up against in the Copa America will be better compared to the ones they faced in the Asian Cup. Some squads like Brazil are one of the best in the world right now. It will be an intimidating atmosphere, but Qatar can shock a team or two in their first appearance in the tournament.
They will undoubtedly make the most of their time in the limelight. Coach Felix Sanchez wants to show everyone the progress his side has made. “Since our squad has many young players, we look forward to gaining as much experience as possible in this high-profile tournament,” he said. “Specifically, that means experiencing the Latin American style of play and taking part in a major tournament in front of many fans.”
Paraguay failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and they will hope to regain some lost pride in the Copa America. They will try to do so with a young and inexperienced squad. Oscar Cardozo is the most experienced player in their squad with 51 caps. He is 36 now, and this will surely be the last tournament for the striker. Only six players in the squad have more than 30 caps for their country.Embed from Getty Images
Their recent form is not significant as well, as they lost the two friendlies they played in March. Peru beat them 1-0 in the first one, and Mexico claimed a 4-2 win in the same international break. Coach Eduardo Berizzo experimented in those games so that he will have a better idea about his squad this time.
Paraguay vs Qatar Preview and Prediction
This will be a close game, but Paraguay should have enough to clinch a narrow win. Both sides will defend tightly and expect to see less than 2.5 goals in this game. Paraguay’s experience at this level should make the difference, and they should start their tournament on a winning note.