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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 21, 2006

Ruiz has few regets after Paraguay exit

KAISERSLAUTERN, June 21 (Reuters) - Paraguay coach Anibal Ruiz said his team should not be ashamed to play their own way following their first-round elimination at the World Cup.

Paraguay arrived at the World Cup as South America's third power and confident they could improve on their performances in 1998 and 2002, when they reached the last 16.

Instead, they were eliminated after 1-0 Group B defeats to England and Sweden, Tuesday's 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago coming as a late consolation.

Ruiz suggested that Paraguay should stick to their aggressive style, which is rarely pretty to watch but has in the past enabled them to beat much more powerful opponents such as Brazil and Argentina.

Rejecting calls his team were too defensive, Ruiz told reporters: 'We should not be ashamed to play the Paraguayan way. We have our own distinctive style which causes trouble for the opposition.

'We should improve on it rather than reject it. I admit that our buildup needs improving but we should not deny who we are.

'Our house is in order. We just need to buy some more furniture.'

Before the tournament, Ruiz believed that his team, mixing some of the old guard with some bright young prospects, was one of the country's best-ever and set the quarter-finals as his target.

But it proved an unhappy experience for young and old alike as the team instead took a step backwards.

Thirty-five-year-old Carlos Gamarra got off on the wrong foot when he headed into his own net after just two minutes of the first game against England.

Germany-based striker Nelson Haedo Valdez failed to hit the target and his partner Roque Santa Cruz was still feeling the effects of nine months on the sidelines following a knee operation.

Julio Dos Santos, who has the look of a classic South American playmaker rather in the style of Argentina's Juan Roman Riquelme, also suffered from his inactivity at Bayern Munich.

Dos Santos has been shunted into the reserves since joining the club from Cerro Porteno at the start of last year.

The tournament will almost certainly be the end of the road for veterans Gamarra, Roberto Acuna and Denis Caniza, who have all played at the last three World Cups.

Both the players and coach Anibal Ruiz still see a bright future in the landlocked country which, despite a population of only five million and widespread poverty, continues to produce good players.

'There's an important element of youth in this group where 50 percent of the players are under-25,' said Ruiz, who remained non-committal on his future.

'Most of the players who played this game are very young,' said Valdez.

'We feel sorry for Acuna, Cardozo and Gamarra, because they have carried our flag for a long time. Now, there's a new generation and we don't want to let Paraguay down.'