Villar hopes for third time lucky

By Daniela Desantis

ASUNCION (Reuters) - Justo Villar will be hoping it is third time lucky when he leads Paraguay out for their opening Group F match against World Cup holders Italy in Cape Town on June 14.

The Real Valladolid goalkeeper, Paraguay's captain, has played a mere eight minutes in two previous World Cup finals.

He did not expect to play in Asia in 2002 although he was part of Paraguay's squad. He made his debut against England in 2006 but after only eight minutes suffered an injury that put him out for the rest of the tournament.

Villar told Reuters that Paraguay, who failed to progress from their group in Germany four years ago, could do better than ever before and get past the second round.

"We have a lot of confidence in the national team. We know we have a team that can play as equals against any side we face," he said speaking from Spain in a recent interview.

"We're aiming high and, knowing our resources, we think we can have a great World Cup. We want this to be Paraguay's best World Cup ever," said the 32-year-old.

Although he had good strikers in Roque Santa Cruz, Nelson Haedo Valdez and Oscar Cardozo, coach Gerardo Martino had to find a quality replacement for Cabanas and turned to a fellow Argentine.

Buenos Aires-born Lucas Barrios obtained Paraguayan nationality through his mother in April and Villar welcomed the choice.

"We hardly know him but he's an important player who is doing well in his (club) team. No doubt he will be good for us," Villar said.

"What happened to Salvador was very traumatic for everyone and on top of that to lose a star like Salvador. I'm sure (Barrios) can lend us a hand along with all the others who aspire to that position."

(Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by Clare Fallon)