The Paraguayans who have triumphed in Colombian football

When the Paraguayan César López Fretes was directing Deportivo Pereira (1964-1970), he would take a long walk from his house to the Plaza de Bolíva

When the Paraguayan César López Fretes was directing (1964-1970), he would take a long walk from his house to the Plaza de Bolívar to have coffee at the Pan Caliente bakery. With the view of the Matecaña cathedral in front of him, he chatted about tactics with some of his leaders and compatriots: Ángel Chávez, Isaías Bobadilla, Andrés Recalde, Aurelio Valbuena and Benito Galeano. Sometimes they were joined by Casimiro Ávalos, a historic scorer of the Matecaña team, who was champion with Nacional in 1954 along with another Guaraní: Ovidio Casartelli.

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He spoke to them of the catenaccio that Helenio Herrera was implementing at Inter Milan at that time and the aspects that it originated: the importance of defensive security, counterattacks, libero and stoppers … With these concepts they were third in the 66 championship, five points behind from the champion, Gabriel Ochoa Uribe’s Santa Fe, and two from Independiente Medellín. López Fretes continued with the Guaraní stele, which triumphed in our country from El Dorado.

Along with Alfredo Di Stéfano, Néstor Rossi and Adolfo Pedernera, the Paraguayan Julio César Ramírez was champion with the Ballet Azul de Millonarios between 1951 and 1953. At the end of that decade and the beginning of the next, with the Albiazul club the historic goalkeeper was four-time champions. Pablo Centurión and forward Genaro Benítez, along with Joel Cabrera and Silvio Parodi. Later, in the 70s, Miguel Ángel Sossa, Apolinar Paniagua, Julio Gómez and Roberto Riquelme were consecrated.

Just as Júnior and Unión Magdalena were characterized by hiring Brazilians and Cúcuta Deportivo in bringing Uruguayans, Pereira specialized in signing Paraguayans. Others of them were Miguel Ángel Sosa, Arístides del Puerto, Mario Rivarola, Crispín Verza and Aurelio Valbuena. However, the most remembered is López Fretes, who in 1950 played with the Risaraldense team and defended his country’s team in the World Cup that Brazil ended up losing to Uruguay with Maracanazo.

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López Fretes failed to be champion with Pereira because the tournaments were long and, in the face of injuries and a short payroll, he could not compete with the squads with greater resources. One of them was in 1973 and it only took a few months to get the title. He conquered the first division with an Atlético Nacional that would later promote another legendary Colombian soccer coach: Argentine Osvaldo Juan Zubeldia, champion in 1976 and 1981.

In the 1980s, América de Cali dominated the domestic income, winning five consecutive titles (1982-1986). In those years, Gerardo González Aquino stood out, who arrived in 1979 and was key in the conquest of the first scarlet star; , one of the greatest idols in the history of the red institution and remembered for his great offensive power, and Roberto Cabañas, scorer who was in the last two mentioned consecrations. Under the orders of the legendary Gabriel Ochoa Uribe, the foreigners shone.

In addition, in the existence of America it is necessary to emphasize the saves of Gustavo Adolfo Riquelme, a goalkeeper who won the 1953 South American Championship (today Copa América) with the Paraguayan team, who played with Atlético de Madrid and who between 1962 and 1965, although not he was champion, he stood out in the scarlet bow. Then he played for Atlético Bucaramanga and ended his career at Real Cartagena. American fans also remember Javier Ferreira, a creative midfielder who was at the 1997 title.

Paraguayan footballers also left their legacy in the other Valle del Cauca team. Some of those who played with their team in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico did so. Roberto Gato Fernández, two-time champion with Cerro Porteño, saved in a that at that time also had Buenaventura Ferreira, currently coach, and Jorge Amado Nunes, remembered midfielder. who was born in Argentina and became a Paraguayan national. None were champions with the Verdiblanco club, but their exhibitions on various afternoons at Pascual Guerrero were outstanding.

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From the new millennium we can highlight Carlos Villagra, champion striker with Pasto in 2006, who later played in Millonarios and Nacional; Germán Centurión, defender who was part of the seventh star of Santa Fe in 2012; Roberto Ovelar, attacker who won two Colombia Cups with Junior and a Super League with Millonarios, and Anthony Silva, goalkeeper who saved with Tolima and Medellín and is the current head of the Paraguayan team, who will play against Colombia in Barranquilla next Tuesday. Two teams will face each other representing two countries to which the ball has historically united them.