Sunday 11 October 2020, 23:12

Romero: There's a long road ahead for Paraguay

  • Angel Romero plays alongside twin brother Oscar at club and national level

  • On Thursday, he came off the Paraguay bench to score a brace against Peru

  • He is now focused on “correcting mistakes ahead of the match with Venezuela”

It is likely that Eduardo Berizzo glanced two or three times at his bench before bringing in Angel Romero versus Peru in Paraguay’s opening match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying campaign.

With the Paraguayans trailing 1-0 with 27 minutes to go, and with Angel sitting beside his twin brother Oscar as usual, it would have been understandable had the experienced coach confused the pair in the heat of the moment.

Once the substitute was out on the pitch, it became clear that Berizzo had chosen wisely by introducing the forward rather than the attacking midfielder: in the space of 18 minutes, Angel scored two goals, equalling his tally for his previous 16 international matches combined, and turning the game on its head in the process.

Although the eventual outcome was a 2-2 draw, Romero preferred to look on the bright side. “Our big mistake was not managing the game correctly when we went in front,” the 28-year-old goalscorer explained to after the encounter. “But this is just the beginning, and there’s a long road ahead. This is a useful point.”

Paraguay's Angel Romero celebrate after scoring against Peru 

Angel Romero, who is on the cusp of becoming a father for the first time, is doubtless accustomed to coaches doing a double-take before giving him the nod, as he has spent a large part of his career with Oscar. In fact, both brothers currently play for the same club, San Lorenzo (Argentina), where they reunited in 2019 after a period apart. And since July of this year, the twins have even shared a Twitter account.

Raised by their mother Maria Lucia, their grandmother Dora, and their aunt Margarita, they started kicking a ball around on the fields of Fernando De La Mora, on the outskirts of Asuncion, and they stuck together as they joined the Sport Primavera club in the local Liga Fernandina.

It was there they were spotted by Adolfino Canete, who starred for Paraguay at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The former attacking midfielder helped to polish Oscar’s innate talent and Angel’s goalscoring prowess.

Both brothers completed a successful trial with Boca Juniors when they were 14, but they were unable to sign for the Argentinian club due to administrative problems. Instead, they joined Cerro Porteno, where they made their first Paraguayan top-flight appearance in 2011. Angel reached this milestone first, scoring on his debut, and Oscar followed in his footsteps a week later.

Oscar Romero and Angel Romero of Paraguay look dejected

Subsequently, Angel earned his maiden cap for Paraguay on 6 September 2013, and his brother again emulated him the following week. Oscar would actually go on to play a more regular role in that particular side, which failed to qualify for Brazil 2014.

That year, Angel scored 15 goals in 43 matches for Cerro Porteno and clinched a league-winner’s medal. “This has been an unforgettable year for me, my brother and my family due to what we achieved,” he said at the time.

The siblings finally parted ways in 2015: Oscar moved to Racing Club, which seemingly caused Angel to suffer a loss of form. While his brother was representing Paraguay at the Copa America in Chile, he was left out of the squad altogether.

"I'm the calmer one. He's the crazy member of the family!"
Oscar Romero, affectionately talking about his brother Angel to Argentinian magazine El Gráfico

Angel got back to his best with Brazilian giants Corinthians in 2016, scoring 13 goals in 53 matches. His form saw him regain his place in La Albirroja’s squad during their unsuccessful qualifying campaign for Russia 2018, making eight appearances, but without hitting the back of the net.

Berizzo has placed his confidence in both brothers since announcing his first squad at the beginning of 2019. And after a recent unfortunate incident in which he injured a San Lorenzo youth player during a training session, for which he has apologised profusely, Angel set about repaying that trust with the double strike against Peru last week.

Now the forward is fully focused on Venezuela, Paraguay’s next opponents in the South American qualifying campaign. “It’s essential to avoid lapses in concentration, because although this is a long race, the second challenge will come along pretty quickly,” he concluded.