Soccer: Shot teammate inspires Paraguay in Cup campaign

Paraguay are without their top player Salvador Cabanas, who was shot in the head in a Mexico City bar this year.

The striker is still alive, albeit with a bullet fragment in his skull, and his injury has been used as inspiration for their World Cup campaign.

President Fernando Lugo recently sent a letter to the team asking them to play for the former striker.

"Remember our beloved, stupendous example of gritty Paraguay spirit - Salvador Cabanas," Mr Lugo wrote.

"He is a magnificent example of how the fighting spirit, a strong will and faith helps us respond in the face of adversity."

Indeed, when Enrique Vera scored to give Paraguay an early lead against Slovakia on Sunday, the team circled as a sign of their unity.

"The players have spoken to him, we have been in touch with him all the time since he suffered his accident," coach Gerardo Martino said.

Paraguay has a decent World Cup record - compared with New Zealand. They reached the second round in 1986, 1998 and 2002, but were knocked out in the group stage four years ago in Germany.

- staff reporter

- NZ Herald

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