Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz, famous for his motivational methods, revealed on Monday he owes his squad two pickup trucks plus a third if they upset Argentina in their Copa America semi-final.
Argentina are favourites to win Tuesday’s match in the northern city of Concepcion (2330 GMT) and reach a final against hosts Chile, who beat Peru 2-1 in the other semi-final.
“Did I promise the squad something? Ask the players, they’ve already won two,” Argentine Diaz told a media conference, laughing.
Striker Edgar Benitez later confirmed: “We’ve already won two pickups off him and we’re going for the third.”
Diaz said Paraguay’s run to the last four had been spurred by the team’s desire to make up for their failure to reach last year’s World Cup finals in Brazil. “I believe in the thirst for revenge of this team, that’s why we’ve got to this stage,” he said.
If Paraguay win they will reach their second successive final after the 2011 tournament when Gerardo Martino, now in charge of Argentina, was coach.
Paraguay fought back from two goals down for a 2-2 draw with Martino’s Argentina in their opening group match, only Diaz’s fourth in charge.
“I like it that the team have the fortitude to turn (bad) situations around, we have a spirit that I like,” Diaz said.
His team has a number of veterans from the Paraguay side that reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 2010 but the Argentine singled out 21-year-old midfielder Derlis Gonzalez for special praise.
Gonzalez struck the penalty equaliser against Brazil in their quarter-final then the decider in the 4-3 shootout win that sent them through.
“(Gonzalez) had the character to kick two penalties at very difficult instances,” Diaz said.
Martino was in charge of Paraguay for five years, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and is well aware of their never-say-die attitude.
“With any team, but especially Paraguay who I coached and know, when you have the chance to finish the job, do it, because they have a lot of pride,” he told reporters of their first loss to Paraguay at the tournament.
“It’s clear we have a problem finishing … If we can change that we’ll be good.”
Source: Bd news24