Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino believes his side will take inspiration from the plight of their team-mate Salvador Cabanas, who is at home recovering from being shot in the head. The stocky striker is missing the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa as he continues his recovery from the incident in a Mexican bar in January.
Cabanas is a first-choice forward for Martino's side and his absence will be felt during the tournament, which kicks off against Italy in Cape Town tomorrow. Martino hopes to turn it into a positive, however. "This is a very sensitive issue for all of us, the whole of Paraguay," he said. "The players have spoken to him, we have been in touch with Salvador all the time since he suffered the accident.
"Of course he is a great inspiration for us, for us to be able to play in a World Cup and we will play in tribute to Salvador. He would have been here had he not suffered that accident."
Martino added: "He is in recovery and is recuperating. He is in a very important stage of his recovery now and is able to start certain treatment. I haven't spoken to him very recently but his progress is favourable and we hope to find him looking well when we get back."
Borussia Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios echoed his coach's sentiments and revealed the squad will pay tribute with more than just words."We do have something of a surprise in store for tomorrow," he said. "All of the players in the squad, in the three matches ahead of us, will play for Salvador and dedicate our victories to him because he's an important player."
Barrios added: "We're all extremely keen and very enthusiastic, the same as the people of Paraguay are. We really hope we do a good job in the World Cup and I hope our first game is good. We respect Italy, of course, but when it comes down to it we will try to take three points. Tomorrow is not decisive, but certainly it would be good to win the match. If we don't, we also know it is not decisive. The entire team is very united and we really want to rise to the challenge at the World Cup."