Paraguay put Copa credentials on line

BUENOS AIRES - Paraguay put their Copa America credentials on the line against the United States in Nashville on Tuesday after coach Gerardo Martino's scathing assessment of their performance in a 3-1 defeat to Mexico.

"This is what happens when you sit on your laurels," Martino (pictured), whose team made the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time last year, said after Saturday's defeat.

Paraguay, whose traditional strengths lie in defence, succumbed to three first-half goals - two by striker Javier Hernandez - in Oakland in one of a spate of friendlies in a busy end-of-March programme for national teams from the Americas.

"If we remain satisfied with having been among the top eight (teams) in the world, things will surely go the way they did today (Saturday), but if we use it as a platform to keep progressing we'll do better," Martino told reporters.

"We have only one more commitment before the Copa America. If we don't leave (Oakland) worried it's because we haven't made a good analysis of the match (against Mexico)."

At the Copa America in Argentina in July, Paraguay will be in the same group as holders Brazil, who put two successive defeats behind them to beat Scotland 2-0 in London on Sunday. Both goals came from teenage sensation Neymar.

The U.S., overwhelmed by Lionel Messi's Argentina in the first half of their friendly in New Jersey on Saturday, scrambled an equaliser from a set piece.

The 1-1 draw will encourage them in their preparations to wrest the Concacaf Gold Cup from rivals Mexico on home soil in June.

Argentina move on to San Jose to play Costa Rica at their new Chinese-built stadium on Tuesday, while Mexico, who have won both their matches under coach Jose Manuel de la Torre, meet Venezuela in San Diego. Venezuela beat Jamaica 2-0 in Montego Bay on Friday.

CHINESE GIFT

Costa Rica, having led by two goals, were held 2-2 by China in a friendly to inaugurate the $100 million stadium in San Jose, a gift from the Chinese government in recognition of the central American country's decision five years ago to break off diplomatic relations with Taipei in favour of ties with Beijing.

Chile, following a 1-1 draw away to Portugal in Aveiro on coach Claudio Borghi's debut, face Colombia in The Hague on Tuesday. Colombia go into the match on the back of a 2-0 win over South American neighbours Ecuador in Madrid.

In a Dutch double-header in The Hague, Ecuador meet Peru.

World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay, who fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat to Estonia - albeit it in unfamiliar freezing conditions in Tallinn - meet Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday.

Honduras, who played at their second World Cup last year and were crowned central American champions in January, were beaten 4-0 by South Korea in Seoul.

The Hondurans have a chance to make amends with a match away to China in Wuhan on Tuesday.

Panama, who hosted January's Copa Centroamericana, in which Honduras beat Costa Rica in the final, overcame Bolivia 2-0 with goals from Colombia-based pair Gabriel Gomez and Luis Renteria on Friday.

The Bolivians continue their central American tour with a match against Guatemala in Mazatenango on Monday, while Panama are away to Caribbean lightweights Cuba in Havana on Tuesday.