ASUNCION – Nine members of the Paraguay national soccer team left on Tuesday for South Africa ahead of a Nov. 20 friendly match against the Bafana Bafana in the 24th annual Nelson Mandela Challenge.
One player of the group, defender Juan Patiño, told the media before boarding the plane at Asuncion airport that the contest will give an indication about the approach of new coach Juan Carlos Osorio.
Patiño was accompanied by goalkeepers Santiago Rojas, Alfredo Aguilar and Antony Silva; defenders Juan Escobar, Santiago Arzamendia and Rodrigo Rojas; and midfielders Richard Ortiz and Blas Caceres.
Osorio has called up 24 players for the friendly, which will mark Paraguay’s return to South African soil eight years after reaching the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup there.
Osorio, 57, joined Paraguay in September and while his immediate task is to prepare for the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, the longer-term focus is on the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Paraguay hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since their participation in South Africa in 2010.
The friendly match will be played at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The Nelson Mandela Challenge was launched in 1994, the year Mandela (1918-2013) took office as South Africa’s first president under majority rule.