Navi Mumbai: In a must-win game for Paraguay to qualify for the knockout stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the team already finds themselves 2 goals down against New Zealand in the 34th minute. The intense pressure would not be hitting anybody harder than Paraguay skipper Alexis Duarte, whose costly blunders led to the own goals.
As the second half approached, the South Americans came out all guns blazing, putting on a valiant effort to seal the game comprehensively. During the presser, Paraguay coach Gustavo Morinigo was asked to select his man of the match and his answer took everyone by surprise.
“I think the team very well, but special mention to the team captain, Alexis Duarte. We were all curious and guilty about conceding two own goals but he made it possible to revert that result and that’s why he deserves that special mention. “
Such is the trust the coach instils in the lanky centre-back, even in the toughest of circumstances. Duarte took time to speak to Deccan Chronicle, after leading his side to a 3-1 win over Turkey that saw them top their respective group.
“Captaining the side is very tough and it's a responsibility that the coach gives me. But as a whole unit, we've worked very well to progress to the knockouts, ”the defender stated.
Despite his nightmarish display against New Zealand, Duarte feels the team’s character has got them the results.
“It was unfortunate to concede two goals, but we were able to switch and overcome that moment. So that's how we stay as a team. Without everyone’s help, it wouldn't have been possible,” Duarte added.
With each Los Guaraníes goal, comes a unique celebration. The boys in red in white gather in a circle, bend on their knees and point their fingers up to the sky.
When asked the reason behind the celebration, Duarte explained, “We are a religious bunch of players. It's our effort as well as God's effort. So we make sure to thank the Almighty. “
Having taken the tournament by storm, Morinigo's boys will hope for many such celebrations as they embrace the knockout stages.