QUITO - Ecuador coach Sixto Vizuete expects group leaders Paraguay to be more difficult opponents than five-times World Cup winners Brazil for his team, who host both countries in qualifiers in the next week. "Maybe, given their recent performances, Paraguay will be the tougher opponents here," Vizuete told reporters in an interview broadcast on the website of the El Comercio newspaper. "Perhaps they will give way under the pressure of the altitude and under the pressure of the crowd." Vizuete launched a jibe at Brazil, who visit Quito at 2,800 metres above sea level on Sunday. "They are afraid of altitude," he said. Ecuador, attempting to qualify for their third successive World Cup, are sixth in the 10-team South American group with 12 points from 10 games. Paraguay, who face Ecuador on Wednesday, lead with 23 points followed by Brazil with 17. The top four teams qualify directly and the fifth plays off against the fourth side from the CONCACAF region. Ecuador won their last two World Cup qualifiers at home to Brazil in 2001 and 2004. They lost 5-0 in Brazil and 5-1 away to Paraguay earlier in this campaign, prompting Luis Fernando Suarez to resign as coach. "We need these six points to stay in with a chance," said Vizuete, the former under-20 coach who replaced Suarez. "It would give us a 70 percent chance of qualifying." "We've been playing well, we have been creating lots of scoring chances and this time we will convert them."
26 March 2009
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