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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
Paraguay football hero taunts Brazil
Jose Luis Chilavert playing in the Argentine football league
Chilavert is famous for making political statements
The captain of Paraguay's national football team, Jose Luis Chilavert, has suggested that Brazil should return territory it seized during a war between the two countries more than a century ago.

In the run-up to Wednesday's crucial World Cup encounter, Chilavert complained that the Brazilian media were blowing the match totally out of proportion, and treating it like a war.

If we're going to talk about war, let's hope that Brazil returns the lands it took from Paraguay

Jose Luis Chilavert
The Paraguayan captain said that if wars were mentioned, perhaps Brazil could return the land it took from his country - including the world-famous Iguazu Falls - in a five-year war which ended in 1870.

Brazil won the match 2-0 to give their qualifying chances for 2002 a much-needed fillip.

Marcelinho Paraiba's opened the scoring in the fifth minute with his first international goal, and Rivaldo's header in the 70th put the match beyond doubt.

Brazil's lacklustre performance so far has left the team in danger of failing to reach the World Cup finals for the first time in the tournament's history.

The team remains four in the South American qualifying group, with 24 points, but have closed the gap on second place Paraguay, with 26 points.

Only the top four team out of 10 qualify.

Coach's backing

The Paraguayan captain was backed up in his pre-match comments by team coach Sergio Makarian, a Uruguayan.

Makarian criticised the Brazilian attitude and said he disagreed with such attempts to turn the game into anything more than a sporting confrontation.

Chilavert, who is also the Paraguayan goalkeeper, became an international name when he took his team to the second round of the World Cup finals in France in 1998.

He is also renowned for making political statements.

He refused to play in the 1999 Copa America, hosted by Paraguay, saying that money should have been spent on improving schools and hospitals rather than stadia for the tournament.

Paraguay was heavily defeated in the 1865-70 war by the Triple Alliance of Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, losing a considerable part of its male population and large tracts of land.

Much of the blame for the conflict is thought to lie with the then Paraguayan dictator, Solana Lopez, for declaring war on Brazil over its involvement in Uruguay's civil war.

See also:

30 Jul 01 | Americas
Timeline: Brazil
31 Jul 01 | Americas
Timeline: Paraguay
24 Nov 00 | Americas
Brazilian football in crisis?
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Paraguay
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Brazil
14 Aug 01 | World Cup 2002
Rivaldo back for Brazil
13 Aug 01 | World Cup 2002
Brazil switch begs questions
15 Aug 01 | World Cup 2002
Uruguay defeat helps Brazil
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