Assuming coach Gerardo Martino picks him to face Spain in their last-eight encounter, it will be a double case of deja vu for Paraguayan 'grandad' Denis Caniza. Caniza has 94 caps and is a veteran of previous FIFA World Cup™ encounters against the Spanish in 1998 and 2002.
The likelihood is that Martino will leave Caniza, of Mexican outfit Leon, in reserve but if the going gets tough he may well be prevailed upon to make an appearance and give the South Americans the benefit of his experience. So far, Caniza has appeared just once, in the goalless draw against New Zealand in the group phase that proved just enough to secure top spot, prior to the penalty shoot-out win over Japan in the last 16. Now, as the Paraguayans go into their first ever quarter-final after four near misses, Caniza is hoping for a lucky 13th personal appearance in the finals.
"We have a marvellous squad and a great generation of players, blending experience with youth," Caniza said as he looked forward to Saturday's game in Johannesburg. "We are one big family who love and respect each other and we are good friends." Back in the day when he was a newcomer at France 98, the Paraguayans had several characters in the group, such as extrovert goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert.
Caniza, who has plied his trade in Argentina as well as his homeland and Mexico, will hope that Paraguay can show the kind of battling spirit that they did 12 years ago, when a goalless draw in Saint-Etienne was enough to sink Spanish hopes of getting out of the group. That year, Paraguay fell to a Laurent Blanc golden goal for eventual winners France but in beating Japan they have written a new chapter for Paraguayan football.
As Paraguay entered the group phase, Caniza was already convinced they had what it took to make a big impression, telling journalists: "Why shouldn't we dream at least of making it into the final week?"
A more personal dream sees the 35-year-old from Bella Vista Norte, as squad skipper, actually lifting the trophy on July 11. But for now he will settle for a win over Spain and at least a cameo from the bench towards that end.