March 21, 2016

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) Paraguay's national soccer team must beat the thin air in Ecuador's capital Quito if it wants to win its crucial World Cup qualifier.

Coach Ramon Diaz says his team will train in the coastal Ecuadoran city of Guayaquil until just hours before Thursday's match, then travel to Quito, which is located at 2,850 meters (9,350 feet).

This is one of two general strategies for beating the altitude. The other is arriving weeks beforehand to adjust to the thin air.

''We're in shape to play a great match,'' Diaz said.

La Paz, Bolivia, presents an even greater problem for visiting teams, located at 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) in the Andes.

Ecuador leads the 10 teams in South American qualifying with 12 points and is particularly difficult to beat at home. It's three points ahead of Uruguay and five in front of Brazil, Paraguay and Chile.

The 2014 World Cup runner-up Argentina has only five points.

In other matches on Thursday, it's Bolivia vs. Colombia, Chile vs. Argentina and Peru vs. Venezuela.

Brazil plays Uruguay on Friday in the northeastern city of Recife, in a region that's been the epicenter of the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil.

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