It is likely that Eduardo Berizzo glanced at his bench two or three times before introducing Angel Romero against Peru in Paraguay’s opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar qualifying campaign.
With the Paraguayans trailing 1-0 with 27 minutes remaining and Angel sitting next to his twin brother Oscar as usual, it would have been understandable if the veteran coach had confused the pair in the heat of the moment.
With the substitute on the field, it became clear that Berizzo had deliberately introduced the striker, not the attacking midfielder: Angel scored two goals in 18 minutes, which is his record for his last 16 caps. and turn the game upside down.
Although the final result was a 2-2 draw, Romero preferred to look on the good side. “Our big mistake was that we didn’t manage the game properly when we were upfront,” the 28-year-old scorer told FIFA.com after the game. “But this is just the beginning and there is a long way to go. This is a useful point.”
Romero is only the third South American to come into a game as a substitute and score a brace in a World Cup qualifier. The previous players were Richard Morales from Uruguay in 2001, who scored twice against Australia in the second leg of the OFC-CONMEBOL playoff for Korea / Japan in 2002, and Jose Torrealba from Venezuela in 2005 against Peru in a qualifier for Germany in 2006.
On the verge of becoming a father for the first time, Angel Romero is no doubt used to coaches doing a brace before giving him the nod, having spent much of his career at Oscar. In fact, both brothers currently play for the same club, San Lorenzo (Argentina), where they reunited in 2019 after a period of time. 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 kicked a ball in the fields of Fernando De La Mora on the outskirts of Asuncion and stuck together when they played the Primavera Club in the local Liga Fernandina.
There they were discovered by Adolfino Canete, who played for Paraguay at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The former attacking midfielder helped improve Oskar’s innate talent and Angel’s scoring.
Both brothers completed a successful trial with Boca Juniors at the age of 14, but could not sign for the Argentine club due to administrative problems. Instead, they switched to Cerro Porteno, where they had their first Paraguayan top performance in 2011. Angel reached this milestone first, scoring a goal on his debut. A week later, Oscar followed in his footsteps.
Angel then received his first hat for Paraguay on September 6, 2013, and his brother emulated it again the following week. Oscar would actually play a more regular role on this particular team that failed to qualify for Brazil 2014.
That year, Angel scored 15 goals in 43 games for Cerro Porteno and took home a league winner’s medal. “This has been an unforgettable year for me, my brother and my family because of what we have achieved,” he said at the time.
The siblings finally separated in 2015: Oscar moved to the Racing Club, which apparently gave Angel a loss of form. While his brother represented Paraguay at the Copa America in Chile, he was excluded from the squad altogether.
Angel returned to his best with Brazilian giant Corinthians in 2016, scoring 13 goals in 53 games. In his form he was able to regain his place in the La Albirroja squad during the unsuccessful qualification for Russia 2018. He played eight games without hitting the mark.
Berizzo has put his trust in both brothers since announcing his first roster in early 2019. And after an unfortunate incident in which he recently injured a youth player from San Lorenzo during a training session for which he apologized profusely, Angel set about repaying that trust with the one-two blow to Peru last week.
Now the striker is fully focused on Venezuela, Paraguay’s next opponent in South American qualifying. “It is important to avoid difficulty concentrating because although this is a long race, the second challenge will come pretty quickly,” he concluded.