Asuncion, May 24 (IANS) Paraguay’s June 12 friendly against Japan will be veteran goalkeeper Justo Villar’s final appearance for the national side, coach Gustavo Morinigo has said.
Though Morinigo’s focus was the presentation of a team roster packed with new faces, Wednesday’s press conference was dominated by Villar, who could not hold back the tears when he was applauded by the journalists present, reports EFE news agency.
“It’s a feeling that’s a little bit difficult. It’s 19 years I’ve been on the national team, with good times and bad, with marvelous people and growing in terms of football,” he said.
Villar, who turns 41 next month, has played 119 matches for Paraguay, taking part in three World Cups and eight Copa America tournaments.
The highlight of his international career was the 2010 World Cup, when he allowed only two goals as Paraguay reached the quarter-finals.
Villar thanked Morinigo for naming him to start the June 12 match, while the coach acknowledged that the choice was a way “to say goodbye to him with an international match.”
While Japan will treat the friendly as preparation for the 2018 World Cup, which begins June 15 in Russia, Paraguay failed to qualify for the competition.
The most noteworthy new addition to the team announced Wednesday is defender Alejandro Romero Gamarra, who plays professionally for the New York Red Bulls.
“He’s making goals, he’s a figure on his team. He’s a player who makes a difference on his club and deserves an opportunity,” Morinigo said.
Morinigo, who said he did not know if he would continue as coach after the match with Japan, added that in any case it’s a job geared toward youth to design a team that can qualify for the 2022 World Cup.