Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino said Saturday there were "no limits" for his team if they played to their potential, praising the performances of Latin American sides at the FIFA World Cup™.
Paraguay go into Sunday's Group F clash against Slovakia after holding defending world champions Italy knowing a win would take them to the brink of qualification for the second round with only New Zealand still to play.
Martino told reporters at Bloemfontein's Free State stadium that if his team performed to their abilities there is "no limit for us" and that the Slovakia clash would show the direction in which Paraguay were heading. "Either we will have lots of dreams or we will lose dreams," he said.
Martino said Latin American teams had started well in South Africa, singling out Mexico for special praise. "Some already have played their second matches. I believe all the Latin American teams have been somewhere between acceptable and very good and some really have a chance of going into the round of 16."
"Considering the group they're playing in I think Mexico is doing a very good job," he added. Mexico are competing in Group A with France, South Africa and Uruguay and look set to reach the knockout phase.
I believe all the Latin American teams have been somewhere between acceptable and very good and some really have a chance of going into the round of 16.
The coach said he wanted his team to use the ball better against Slovakia on Sunday. "In tomorrow's match I hope that we work better with the ball. I think this is essential if we want to go anywhere," he told reporters at the Free State stadium.
And he said the match against Slovakia, who drew their opener against New Zealand 1-1, while important, was "not a determining match" in terms of qualification. "I think Slovakia are going to play the way they have played the qualifying matches. They play fast counters because they have good technicians."
Martino said the only unfit player in his 23-man squad was midfielder Jonathan Santana, meaning Manchester City's Roque Santa Cruz, who did not make the starting line-up against Italy, is ready for selection. Paraguay have a strong set of strikers, with Martino opting to pair Argentina-born Lucas Barrios and his Borussia Dortmund team-mate Nelson Valdez for the Italy clash while Santa Cruz came on as a second-half substitute.
The South Americans, in their fourth straight finals, came into the tournament in great shape after winning matches against Brazil and Argentina in qualifying.