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Final full of surprises

sports Updated: Jul 24, 2011 02:16 IST

After two successive finals involving Brazil and Argentina, most South American football fans expected a battle of the giants in the final of the Copa America.

Instead, they can look forward to a duel between two nations whose populations barely reach the ten million of Bolivia between them, never mind the 190 million of Brazil alone.

Uruguay will be overwhelming favourites to see off Paraguay and clinch a record 15th continental crown, their first since 1995, to break their tie with Argentina.

But Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez is keen to play down the favourites' mantle.

Argentina had expected to land a 15th Copa for themselves but instead the hosts fell to Uruguay in a quarter-final shootout to leave coach Sergio Batista fighting for his job.

Brazil likewise made a quarter-final exit to Paraguay after failing to convert any of their kicks and Paraguay were at it again in defeating Venezuela to reach their first final since their second triumph in 1979.

Paraguay, who will likely pin their hopes on Lucas Barrios and Nelson Haedo Valdez in attack with Roque Santa Cruz still not fully fit, also won the event in 1953 and were runners-up on five occasions.

Yet here, the talk is of how they have reached Sunday's showdown at River Plate's Estadio Monumental by drawing all their matches.

But it is Uruguay, despite having only a 3.5 million population to draw on, who have shaped the history of the world's oldest international football tournament with their 14 wins and six final losses in 42 previous editions.

They will be looking to Diego Forlan, the top scorer at the 2010 World Cup, to find the target for the first time at the tournament.

Three of their games ended goalless though they were entertaining enough in a 2-2 group draw with the Brazilians and a 3-3 draw with Venezuela.

The winner of Sunday's game will go forward to represent South America's CONMEBOL association in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup hosted by Brazil.