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Venezuela name Farias as Paez replacement

CARACAS, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Venezuela named 34-year-old Cesar Farias as the replacement for Richard Paez as the national team coach on Tuesday.

The Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) said in a statement that Farias would lead the team until the end of the World Cup qualifiers in October 2009.

Farias, coach of provincial club Deportivo Anzoategui, has yet to win a major title and was widely regarded as the second candidate for the job after Caracas FC boss Noel Sanvincente.

Farias led Deportivo Tachira to the quarter-finals of the South American Libertadores Cup in 2004, where they lost to eventual champions Sao Paulo of Brazil. On the way, they eliminated Nacional of Uruguay.

Paez, who resigned last month after he was insulted by the home crowd during a 5-3 win over Bolivia, had been in charge for more than six years, a period in which he transformed the team's fortunes and will prove a hard act to follow.

Long-regarded as the ugly ducklings of South American soccer, Venezuela had only ever won three World Cup qualifiers before Paez was promoted from the under-20 team in January 2001.

Although they lost 5-0 to Argentina on his debut the following March, they won four qualifiers in a row later the same year.

They also won five matches in the qualifying competition for the 2006 finals, including the 3-0 win in Uruguay.

Venezuela, the only South American country never to have played at a World Cup, have taken six points from their first four games in the South American group.