BERNAT LÓPEZ / ©XTREM FOOTBALL
Aged 14, Fernando Ovelar is not old enough to drive, to vote or to drink but he is old enough to play professional football for Cerro Porteño and on Sunday he became the youngest ever goalscorer in Paraguay’s biggest derby match against Olimpia.
Ovelar, who made his debut for the Primera Division club last week, showed the composure of a man twice his age when he ran on to a through ball and chipped the Olimpia keeper to put the home side ahead after 16 minutes. That strike allowed the Paraguayan wonderkid to eclipse the previous record of 17 years, one month and 28 days held by Sergio Diaz.
Nestor Camacho equalised for Olimpia 12 minutes later. Ovelar, who is two months and two days away from his 15th birthday, was substituted 14 minutes into the second half of a game that summed up the excitement and chaos of Paraguayan football.
Marcos Acosta thought he had stolen the points for Cerro with a goal five minutes into injury time but then Olimpia controversially made it 2-2 with a penalty eight minutes later. Both sides also had a man sent off moments from the final whistle. Leaders Olimpia remain seven points clear of their rivals at the top of the Paraguayan first division.
Paraguayan clubs have been instructed to field at least one player younger than 19 to build experience in the country’s top league. Deportivo Capiata player Kevin Pereira is also 14 and has already debuted in Paraguay’s top league. Former United States forward Freddy Adu, once regarded at “the next Pele”, was 14 when he scored his first professional goal for DC United in 2004.