PHILADELPHIA – Paraguay have one job: beat the United States on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field (7 pm ET; FS1, Univision, UDN).
Any other result and they will head back home after being eliminated from Copa America Centenario.
Argentine Ramón Díaz took over as head coach of the Paraguay national team in 2014, without ever managing an international side before, although he’s coached five clubs in three different countries. His numbers haven’t been what Paraguayans expected. After 19 games coached, Díaz has only won three, lost seven and drawn nine, and the team currently sits seven in the South American qualifiers.
José Luis Chilavert, one of the most decorated players in Paraguay history, expressed his frustration with his team’s performance after their first two Copa America games.
“The team didn’t show any superiority against Costa Rica, and that was the game we needed to win,” said Chilavert on Wednesday in an interview with Paraguayan radio station Monumental 1080 AM. “And now, Paraguay have this game against the US where winning is the only option.”
Controversial as he’s always been, Chilavert called Díaz an “office clerk” while blaming the Paraguayan federation administrators for the bad results.
“Failing began from the executives. They can’t keep a coach who, in a year and a half and 19 games played, has only beat Jamaica, Venezuela and Bolivia,” complained Chilavert.
“[Díaz]’s an office clerk. He just closes himself, along with his son, in his office at the federation,” the former goalscoring goalkeeper continued. “His son was a poor and mediocre soccer player and he’s the one who plans every soccer aspect of the team. But it’s the executives’ fault for paying a huge amount of money to someone who doesn’t want to work.”
Chilavert’s comments came after Paraguay lost to Colombia 2-1 on Tuesday night, putting at risk their qualification to the Copa quarterfinals for the first time since 2001. Now a commentator for Univision during Copa America Centenario, he first held Alejandro Domínguez – CONMEBOL’s president – responsible for Paraguay's lack of results.
Domínguez was the president of the Paraguayan federation when Díaz was offered the head coach position.
“During [Tuesday's] broadcast I criticized Domínguez because he can potentially go to prison after being denounced by [former CONMEBOL president, now in prison in Uruguay] Eugenio Figueredo to an Uruguayan and American court,” said Chilavert. “And this morning, Dominguez’s people called the network and asked them to remove me from the broadcasts because of how I criticized him.”
It is not the first time the former goalkeeper has shared strong words against Díaz and the Paraguayan federation. In 2015 Chilavert compared Díaz to former Argentinean president Carlos Menem, who has been accused and charged of corruption, specifically for embezzlement.
Chilavert played 74 games with the Paraguay national team and scored 62 goals in his 22-year career, mainly via free kicks. He ranks second among goalkeepers with most goals scored after legendary Brazilian Rogério Ceni. He captained Paraguay in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.