Friday 22 November 2019, 04:08

Paraguay’s Carballo keeping the faith

  • Carlos Carballo scored twice in Paraguay's opener

  • Hosts came from three goals down, but conceded in last second and lost to Japan

  • "It’s in our hands and we need to win our two remaining games to qualify"

Carlos Carballo provided the spark hosts Paraguay needed against Japan in their opening match of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019. It was a spark that allowed them to come back from three goals down but which was snuffed out in the very last second of the game.

“It’s tough to find anything positive right now, because the main feeling is one of sadness,” Carballo told minutes after his side’s 5-4 defeat. “I feel we let ourselves and our people down.”

Could he explain the defeat? “We reacted late and made a lot of mistakes, though luck wasn’t on our side either: the free-kick Ozu scored from more than 30 metres out was incredible.”

Carlos Carballo of Paraguay reacts

Carballo added that he did his bit by scoring the goal that roused Paraguay from their slumber nearly 22 minutes in, saying: “That’s what I’m there for.” He was on target again later in the game, making it 4-4 with a free-kick, a goal that had Paraguay dreaming: “The cheer from the fans when it went in was amazing.”

He added: “My game’s all about power, though, keeping the ball on the deck, taking people on, and having faith when I shoot on goal. Faith is what moves me in my life.”

He showed that on scoring his second goal, which he celebrated by pointing to the sky: “I was thanking God for everything he gives me, one of the most important of which is that he lets me make a living from the thing I enjoy most.”

That living comes from a sport he only began playing in 2016. “Before that I was a forward or left-sided midfielder and I ended up playing in the Paraguayan first division with General Diaz.”

It was then that a friend invited him to play on the sand and now, three years later, here he is. “It was a pretty easy switch to make and it wasn’t too long before I got the chance to play for the national team and got myself known,” said Carballo, who plays his beach soccer for Cerro Porteno.

Carlos Carballo of Paraguay celebrates a goal 

He forged his reputation by scoring goals, hitting four of them to be named the player of the tournament at the South American qualifiers for the Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017, where Paraguay reached the last eight for the first time in their history.

Success continued to come his way in 2018, when he spent the European season with Portuguese club Benfica, and this year he was named in Beach Soccer Worldwide’s top 50 players in the world.

Away from the game he also has plenty to be cheerful about, as he proudly explained: “I’m going to be a first-time father in a month. He’s going to be called Pedro Airton and he was in the stadium with my girlfriend today.”

Also there was his mother Sebastiana: “She’s always supported me, though she did tell me off when I swapped my books for the ball in Barrio Molina de Luque, 15 minutes from here.”

His message to her now is to keep believing: “It’s in our hands and we need to win our two remaining games to qualify. We can do it.”