Paraguay
© AFP

After qualifying for the first two FIFA U-20 World Cup finals, Paraguay appeared at just one of the next eight. That sorry record was reversed at the end of the 1990s when La Albirroja reached four finals competitions in a row, thanks to players of the stature of Justo Villar, Paulo Da Silva, Roque Santa Cruz, Salvador Cabanas, Santiago Salcedo and Edgar Barreto. Their most impressive showing came at Argentina 2001, where they finished fourth. After missing out on Netherlands 2005 and Canada 2007, they secured a place at Egypt 2009 by finishing South American runners-up for the first time since 1967.

Qualifying
A well-balanced side, the Paraguayans ended the group phase with two wins to finish second in their section. They then began the final six-team group with a 1-1 draw with Argentina. After easing past Venezuela 3-0, Los Guaraníes went down 2-1 to Colombia before drawing 2-2 with Uruguay, results that left them needing to beat tournament winners Brazil to make sure of a place in Egypt. A 2-1 victory not only secured that objective but also gave them the runners-up slot. The Paraguayans won four matches in all, drew three and lost two, scoring 18 goals and conceding 12. Hernan Perez and Robin Ramirez scored five goals each to end the tournament among the four joint top scorers.

Coach
Born in Buenos Aires, Adrian Alberto Coria was a speedy and nimble forward who, in the course of a career spanning over ten years, played in the top divisions in Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Poland. In February 2007 he joined the Paraguayan national team's coaching staff as an assistant to his compatriot Gerardo Martino, taking over as U-20 coach one year later.

Star players
Hernan Perez, Robin Ariel Ramirez and Federico Santander, all of them born in 1989, formed a feared trio at the South American U-20 Championship, scoring 14 of their side's 18 goals in all. Perez and Ramirez, a midfielder and striker respectively, both hail from Libertad's highly productive youth academy, while Santander has come up through the ranks at Guarani. Two other young Paraguayans to watch out for are goalkeeper Joel Silva and defender Ronald Huth.

Record
Paraguay will be making their eighth appearance in the competition at Egypt 2009. They also reached the finals at Tunisia 1977, Japan 1979, USSR 1985, Malaysia 1997, Nigeria 1999, Argentina 2001 and UAE 2003.
• Their best performance came at Argentina 2001, when they finished fourth.

What they said...
"We played against Brazil with enormous pressure on us and thank God we qualified with a brilliant performance. I believe we raised the flag of Paraguayan youthful football very high that day, and we will go to Egypt with the goal of doing it again," Paraguay coach Adrián Coria.